Objectives: The relationship between a common type of sleep disturbance, sleep-disordered breathing, and the risk of becoming involved in an occupational accident was studied.
Methods: A 10-year retrospective comparison was made of occupational injuries reported to the Occupational Injury Statistics Division of the Swedish National Board of Occupational Safety and Health. The injury rates for 704 consecutive patients suffering from sleep-disordered breathing were compared with the rates for an employed, age-matched random sample of 580 subjects, drawn from the general population.
Results: The risk of being involved in an occupational accident was about 2-fold among male heavy snorers and increased by 50% among men suffering from obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). For females the risk increased by at least 3-fold among heavy snorers and OSAS patients. Reduced vigilance and attention due to sleep-disordered breathing are the proposed mechanisms behind the results.
Conclusion: The early identification and treatment of persons suffering from sleep-disordered breathing would not only have positive impact on individual health and well-being but also on occupational safety.