Many people in California will work even when they are excessively sleepy, which can be dangerous. Drowsiness is known to impair one’s attention, ability to make correct judgments and ability to react quickly to dangers. Worst of all, drowsy workers are less capable of judging their own condition, thinking instead that they can handle potentially risky tasks and maneuvers.

The National Sleep Foundation explains how excessive drowsiness contributed to certain disasters. For example, the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown in 1979, which occurred at approximately 4am, involved some overnight shift workers too sleepy to address certain mechanical problems in time. The Chernobyl incident is another example; it also occurred at a time when drowsiness had hit its peak (1:30am).

Excessively sleepy workers are 70% more likely to be in an accident than workers who are awake and attentive. Accidents and injuries are far more likely as well among those with chronic insomnia, or trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Accident risk doubles for those who are drowsy and who snore, the reason being that snoring could indicate a sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea. As one Swedish study involving nearly 50,000 workers found, the risk of dying in an accident also doubles for those with sleep problems.

Those who do not heed the NSF and get adequate sleep will likely be injured in an accident on the job. They may file for workers’ comp benefits, though if the employer sees that victims were to blame for their own injuries, he or she may deny those benefits. The process of filing a claim can be complicated, then, and mounting an appeal may not be a good idea without a lawyer. Victims may see a lawyer for a case evaluation first. The lawyer may discuss settling the case, too.