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FATIGUE, SLEEPINESS, SLEEPINESS, BEHAVIOR PERFORMANCE LOSS, AND AND ACCIDENTS INTER-INDIVIDUAL VULNERABILITY

One of the best areas in society to look for the relation between sleep deprivation and accidents is shift work, in as much as night work is associated with sleepiness and sleep loss.13

Relevant to this point is the argument that many of the most dramatic accidents in modern times have been ‘fatigue accidents’. For example, the (night-time) nuclear plant meltdown at Chernobyl was due to human error related to work scheduling. Similar arguments have been made for the Three Mile Island reactor accident, the near-miss incidents at the David Beese reactor in Ohio and at the Rancho Seco reactor in California, the disaster in Bhopal, the Space Shuttle explosion as well as the grounding of the oil tanker Exxon Valdez.14 However, these events4 only constitute anecdotal evidence and merely serve as illustrations of possible links between sleep loss and accidents.