What is the relationship between sleep, health and safety on…

Rome, 20 June – With the resumption of mobility following the reduction of the containment measures of the COVID-19 pandemic, the work-related road accidents and injuries.

In Italy in 2022, compared to 2021, road deaths “increased by 9.9% as did the number of accidents and injuries (+9.2%)”. And the road mortality rate “went from 48.6 to 53.6 deaths per million inhabitants (between 2021 and 2022), while it was 53.1 in 2019”.

Without forgetting that work-related road accidents constitute “one of the main causes of death due to accidents at work”.

Although there is a lack of systematic monitoring of road deaths and serious work-related injuries in the Union, “it is estimated that between 40 and 60% of all accidents at work resulting in death are road accidents which occurred while using the road for work and during the home-work-home journey”.

To remember him, with these words, is an information sheet, edited by the Department of Medicine, Epidemiology, Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (Dimeila) of Inail, entitled “Sleep, health and safety even at work: play, experiment and learn with SLEEP-RO@D”.

In the factsheet – edited by E. Pietrafesa, D. Vasselli, A. Martini, S. Garbarino and A. Polimeni – a serious digital game designed as a training-participatory intervention dedicated to raising awareness and promotingsleep hygieneaimed at reducing the risk of road accidents, even in work contexts.

In presenting the new profile, the article focuses on the following topics:

Risk factors for work-related road accidents

The Inail fact sheet recalls, first of all, that literature data “show that the majority of accidents at work are not fundamentally different in their causal structure from any other type of road accident”.

However some risk factors appear to have a particular influence on work-related road safety:

  • “psychophysical state of the driver,
  • incorrect behaviors (e.g. speeding) and risky habits (e.g. consumption of alcohol and illegal drugs, taking medications),
  • tiredness and drowsiness,
  • time pressure and distraction,
  • quality of safety of the road network and vehicle fleet”.

And if, in general, “90% of all road accidents today are linked to the human factor and human errors which have a preponderant impact on the frequency and severity of road accidents”, the statistics “generally indicate that the first cause of road accidents is the ‘distraction‘, often the result of tiredness and excessive drowsiness of the road user”.

It is also indicated that the drowsy while driving it is often “underestimated as a determining factor in road accidents, it is almost never examined in itself as a ’cause’, overshadowed by more obvious and measurable factors (excessive speed, weather conditions, vehicle conditions, etc.)”.

Road accidents and the importance of the quantity and quality of sleep

We then remember that the sleep it is “a biological prerequisite for human life, along with food, water and air”.

In particular theAmerican Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society have clarified that “a reduced quantity and quality of sleep makes you less efficient during the day and that, if this condition persists, it can damage general, cardiovascular, metabolic and mental health, can alter the efficiency of the immune system, reduce performance and vigilance/attention, increase mobility and mortality”.

At the individual level, factors that influence a person’s sleep “include genetics, knowledge, beliefs and attitudes towards sleep, general health, and so on.” But the individual level is then placed “within a social context, which includes family, environment, home, work/school, socioeconomic aspects, religion, culture, race/ethnicity and other factors . All of these factors influence sleep across the individual.”

A serious game to improve health and safety at work

It should also be noted that a recent training methodology that can be effective in conveying “messages relating to the learning of correct behavior from the point of view of health and safety” is represented by serious games, i.e. “educational/training games which integrate playful elements with defined learning objectives, and a key feature, interactivity”.

AND SLEEP-RO@D is a digital serious game, “developed by a multidisciplinary team, designed as an informative training intervention aimed at changing the behavior and habits of individuals/workers regarding the quantity and quality of sleep”.

In the video game – developed within the activities of a research project carried out in collaboration between Inail, Sapienza University of Rome and University of Genoa – “some variables were chosen which can affect sleep and which allow the player, as soon as the game phase, to create your own avatar”.

Following the analysis of literature data and the guidelines of theNational Sleep Medicine Association, “some habits and behaviors have been selected that can be chosen by the character the evening before a working day which will involve driving the vehicle and which influence sleep and game mechanics”. And, in fact, the player is asked to “choose two activities that he wants the avatar to carry out in the evening before the work day” (e.g. “do sports just before going to sleep, study and work intensely, use electronic devices , eat a large dinner, go out drinking alcohol with friends, etc.”). Furthermore, “some characteristics of the environment in which to sleep that can influence sleep must be selected (keep the room temperature high, keep a courtesy light on, keep audio/video devices on, open the window)”.

Therefore the serious game SLEEP-RO@D is based on scientific elements and data inserted within the game dynamics and the “role covered in the game is that of a worker who is chosen by the player and who before starting to drive of a car or company vehicle, makes a series of choices that have an impact on the game and influence the feedback obtained at the end of the journey”.

When the game parameters “fall below a certain level (indicated on the bar by an arrow), in fact, an altered state is experienced which affects the driving mode within the game (change of view and visibility of the road, speed with which quick time events, etc. appear). However, three bonuses that can be used during the game (coffee consumption, quick break and driver’s nap) “allow you to improve sleep and well-being levels”.

The serious game can be used freely and free of charge on smartphones and PCs and in order to use it it is possible to frame the QR code that we take (Figure 5) from the Inail document:

We refer you to read the entire Inail sheet which contains other information on the importance of sleep, with regards to safety, and on the serious game.


Download the document from which the article is taken:

Inail, Department of medicine, epidemiology, occupational and environmental hygiene, “Sleep, health and safety also at work: playing, experimenting and learning with SLEEP-RO@D”, edited by E. Pietrafesa, D. Vasselli and A. Martini (Dimeila, Inail) S. Garbarino (University of Genoa, Department of Neurosciences, Rehabilitation, Ophthalmology, Genetics and Maternal-Child Sciences) and A. Polimeni (Sapienza University of Rome, Department of Odontostomatological and Maxillofacial Sciences), Factsheet , 2024 edition (PDF format, 689 kB).

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