The Link Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Safety


Heavy equipment operators must maintain intense concentration and focus in jobs that require long hours, irregular or night shifts, and repetitive work. It’s no wonder that fatigue and sleep loss are major concerns for their employers. And with studies showing a clear association between sleep disorders and workplace accidents, their concerns are well-founded.

It’s believed that nearly four out of every 10 employees suffer from sleep loss, with a higher risk reported for people who do shift work, perform repetitious tasks or suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). In fact, studies show that the odds of work accidents are almost double for people who have untreated obstructive sleep apnea compared to those who don’t.
Source: National Safety Council

The good news is that screening for OSA can detect which employees may be at risk – who should receive diagnostic testing and who may benefit from treatment.

DROWZLE® is a cost-effective way for you to offer OSA screening to your employees. Installed on an iPhone or Android device, DROWZLE collects symptom data and analyzes breathing sounds during sleep, to provide more accurate detection of the potential risk for obstructive sleep apnea.

Your employees can get the testing and treatment they need and you’ll be doing your part to fight fatigue.

How Sleep Apnea Affects
Overall Health

Obstructive sleep apnea is a life-threatening sleep breathing disorder that affects 25 to 28 million American adults.

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About 80 percent of adults with moderate to severe OSA have not been treated for the condition.

In individuals who have OSA, the soft tissue in the back of their throat collapses and partially or completely closes their airway while they are asleep. This can cause their breathing to stop from 10 to 120 seconds at a time as often as dozens of times per hour or hundreds of times per night.

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The periods when you stop breathing also cause dips in blood-oxygen levels, which can release stress hormones, affecting blood pressure and heart rate.

The lack of quality sleep has been linked to:
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headaches
  • Memory issues
  • Mood and behavior problems
  • An up to 70 percent greater risk of workplace accidents when compare to non-sleep workers *
  • A two- to three-times greater risk of vehicle accidents *
  • Cognitive performance that is similar to being intoxicated *

Obstructive sleep apnea also causes or worsens other health conditions, such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, congestive heart failure, risk of stroke, and risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. However, it can be effectively and successfully treated. Treatment options have greatly improved in recent years and advances in technology have resulted in much better comfort and ease-of-use.

OSA is more than snoring

Common symptoms of OSA include:
  • Choking or gasping while sleeping
  • Loud snoring
  • Morning headaches and nausea
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability or feelings of depression
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Frequent night-time urination
  • Loss of sex drive, impotence or both

The Health Consequences of OSA

People who have untreated obstructive sleep apnea are:
BMI > 0

More likely to be obese by their late 20s.

Four times more likely to have a stroke than someone without obstructive sleep apnea.

more likely

Three times more likely to have heart disease.

More likely to suffer from mood and behavior problems, headaches, difficulty concentrating and memory issues.

Source: National Center for Biotechnology Information; National Library of Medicine

Fatigue on the Job

Some of the negative effects of fatigue among heavy equipment operators include:
  • Incidents of micro-sleeping while operating equipment
  • Impaired decision making and problem solving
  • Slow or delayed response time in unexpected situations
  • Impaired memory
  • Poor performance in critical situations
  • Inability to think through complex tasks

The Benefits of Treatment

Proper diagnosis and effective treatment of obstructive sleep apnea can greatly improve an individual’s quality of life, and overall physical and mental health.

Better Overall Health

With effective treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, your employees can reduce their risk of heart disease, stroke, and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Safer Job Sites

Sleep directly affects decision-making and attention span, which are essential to a "safety-first" mindset.

Drivers who have sleep apnea have a two- to three-fold increased risk of crashes compared to drivers without sleep apnea, take longer to stop their vehicles, and have more difficulty staying within lanes.

Studies show that the odds of work accident are almost double for people with obstructive sleep apnea compared to those who don’t have it.
Source: National Safety Council

Lower Health Care Costs

People who have obstructive sleep apnea spend an additional $3,000 a year on health problems that are exacerbated by their sleep disorder. Detecting and treating these employees can reduce the healthcare cost burdens to the employer.

Source: National Safety Council



We created the DROWZLE mobile software system to provide an easy way to record and analyze sleep breathing patterns, so you know when you need to talk to your doctor or take steps to improve your sleep breathing health.

As you sleep, DROWZLE records sleep breathing patterns and sends sound files to our secure servers in the cloud.

DROWZLE analyzes and interprets the sleep results along with the profile you provide, to measure and track your sleep-related health risks over time. Each morning, you receive the results from the prior night’s sleep.

DROWZLE can provide tips and resources to help you understand your sleep health risks so that you can have more restful nights and alert days.