On-call or stand-by is becoming an increasingly prevalent form of work scheduling. However, on-call arrangements are typically utilised when workloads are low, for example at night, which can result in inadequate sleep. It is a matter of concern that on-call work is associated with an increased risk of workplace injury. This study sought to determine the economic cost of injury due to inadequate sleep in Australian on-call workers. The prevalence of inadequate sleep among on-call workers was determined using an online survey, and economic costs were estimated using a previously validated costing methodology. Two-thirds of the sample (66%) reported obtaining inadequate sleep on weekdays (work days) and over 80% reported inadequate sleep while on-call. The resulting cost of injury is estimated at $2.25 billion per year ($1.71–2.73 billion). This equates to $1222 per person per incident involving a short-term absence from work; $2.53 million per incident classified as full incapacity, and $1.78 million for each fatality. To the best of our knowledge this is the first study to quantify the economic cost of workplace injury due to inadequate sleep in on-call workers. Well-rested employees are critical to safe and productive workplace operations. Therefore, it is in the interest of both employers and governments to prioritise and invest far more into the management of inadequate sleep in industries which utilise on-call work arrangements.
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