Months of sleepless nights threaten health and safety of UK workplaces as England’s cricketers begin defence of Ashes in Australia

Health and safety officers will be on red alert today as tired employees struggle on after the first night of the Ashes cricket series Down Under.

Thousands of cricket fans stayed up through the night to watch England begin their defence of the urn against Australia in Brisbane.

Although the hosts got off to a flying start, the contest continues until the new year and will test the stamina of sleep-deprived workers across the UK.

Sarah Bunker, employment lawyer at law firm Hammonds, said: “Employers could well face loss of productivity and issues with employee performance due to tiredness.

“It is estimated that worker’s tiredness is the main cause for 18% of all accidents and injuries occurring in the workplace.”

With the Ashes taking place alongside boozy Christmas parties and dark, cold mornings, the temptation to take a day off ‘sick’ is also high.

“The cocktail of alcohol, preparation for the festive season and cold weather makes absenteeism a real problem for any employer at this time of year,” said Bunker. “Annually the CBI says that absenteeism costs the UK £11.6bn a year or 40 million lost working days a year.”

During the 2005 Ashes in England, employee absenteeism rose by 20%.

Bunker said: “If employers have serious concerns about the attitude and commitment of some employees, especially during the televising of a major sporting event, they should highlight their position in writing to all staff.”

However, the Social Issues Research Centre found that 63% of men and 52% of women said sporting success had a positive impact on their approach to work. And 47% of women and 40% of men said that sporting success lifted their mood and made them more productive in their jobs.

So employers will be hoping that England captain Andrew Flintoff and his team make a quick recovery from last night’s performance and England retain the Ashes.

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