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SLEEP APNEA

SLEEP DISORDERS are a significant and largely under recognised problem in Australia. With serious consequences both for society and industry, it cost Australian industry over $2.9 billion in 2004 according to Wake up Australia.

Sleep apnea sufferers: • Perform 20% less than their colleagues • Are absent almost 3 x longer than other employees • Are 3 x more likely to suffer a work-related injury or fatality • Are 7 x more likely to have a motor vehicle accident

So, why is this relevant to the security industry? The security industry employs many staff in the high-risk category for sleep apnea and includes roles where tiredness and impaired concentration at work can have very serious implications. When an employee has poor quality sleep, this affects memory, concentration and performance, leading to possible serious consequences for safety, productivity and employee health. All these in turn either directly or indirectly affect the bottom line of any company. Industries specifically involved in transportation and night work, such as security are particularly affected. It is estimated that over 11% of men aged 45-55 have sleep apnea, a major factor impacting accidents, productivity and downtime. For instance, the serious impact on productivity due to sleepiness and fatigue results in delayed reaction times and impaired judgement equivalent to a blood alcohol level of .08%. Fatigue and sleep disorders can also severely impact life quality and mortality.To reduce the risk of sleep disorders, the first step is to diagnose and manage sleep apnea, by far the biggest sleep disorder, affecting over 1 million Australians.

So what is sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is a very common medical condition where sufferers stop breathing many times during sleep. It is caused by the narrowing of the airway up to 100 times an hour and can lead to serious health consequences if left untreated.

Signs of sleep apnea include: • excessive daytime sleepiness • snoring • waking up with a sensation of choking or gasping • depression • gastric reflux / heartburn In addition to the poorer quality of life for sufferers, which affects work performance safety and attendance, there are more serious health consequences, including: • 7 x more likely to suffer a stroke • more likely to suffer a heart attack • significant other co-morbidities, including o Diabetes o Hypertension o Obstructive lung disease o Ischaemic heart disease However, probably the most startling statistic is that over 80% of sleep apnea sufferers have yet to be diagnosed. What is clear is that sleep apnea is a medical disorder that can significantly impact on work force productivity and safety. Treatment is essential to improve quality of life and prevent the development of cardiovascular complications.Through screening and education programs, employers can put in place measures to improve safety and productivity in the workplace.

Obstructed (blocked) upper airway

“Over 80% of sleep apnea sufferers have yet to be diagnosed.”

Healthy upper airway

*Rick Florence is Managing Director of Healthy Sleep Solutions, the largest provider of sleep apnea diagnostic studies and treatment in Australia. He can be contacted at 02 9690 1251 or rick@healthysleep.net.au.

SECURITY INSIDER JUN/JUL 2010// 41

Security Insider June 2010  

Bi-Monthly SecurityI ndustry Magazine published by Australia's Largest Security Industry Organisation - ASIAL. Designed by Martin at Webfx2...

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