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Depression, Fatigue Increase Women’s Risk of Work-Related Injuries

Injuries at work are far too common among all professions. When an injury occurs, workers’ compensation laws ensure that the affected worker is able to obtain benefits including payment for medical care as well as wage loss and disability benefits for long-term impairment. 

Employers and employees both benefit when injuries can be avoided and staff members remain in good health, so it is important for all parties to understand causes and contributing factors to work injuries.

Unsafe work conditions are a primary cause of accidents and injuries, of course, but there are also other underlying factors that can make staff members more susceptible to harm. For example, as recent research from the University of Colorado reveals, depression and fatigue can increase the risk of work-related injuries for women.

The Increased Risk of Work Injuries Due to Depression and Fatigue

The research comes from researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health’s Center for Health, Work, & Environment. The researchers collaborated with the largest workers’ compensation insurer in the state of Colorado to examine claims data from a total of 314 different companies. The businesses that were included in the study came from a wide range of different industries. A total of 17,000 workers were employed by the companies that were included in the study.

The claims data revealed that while men faced a greater overall likelihood of sustaining a work injury than women did, behavioral health factors including anxiety and sleep difficulties did not have an impact on the chances of men getting hurt on the job.  However, behavioral health factors did appear to have an impact on the likelihood women would be hurt at work.

The data, in fact, suggest that these behavioral health factors could potentially be a big risk factor for women.  As the claims data showed, approximately 60 percent of women who experienced a workplace injury had reported experiencing some type of behavioral health condition prior to getting hurt. This was far higher than the comparable number for men. Only 33 percent of men who had sustained work injuries reported experiencing behavioral health issues prior to getting hurt.

While this could be suggestive of a pattern, the study’s lead author warned that more research is necessary to determine why there are differences in workplace injury risks connected with behavioral health issues.  She indicated that there are social factors and cultural factors explaining why women may report higher rates of behavioral health issues, including the fact that women are often more likely to admit to health concerns and the fact women may face different types of stress at home and on-the-job.

Still, the fact that the preliminary research suggests a link exists could indicate that employers who provide supports to staff members to handle stressors could potentially help to create a safer workplace. Regardless of whether workers are experiencing these behavioral health issues, however, any worker hurt because of work duties should be entitled to receive benefits and should contact a Colorado Springs workers’ compensation attorney to get help in taking action.

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