Struggling to manage fatigue in the workplace?

Health and safety representative
Cindy Jackway
Wednesday, May 15th 2024

Fatigue among workers can result in workplace incidents, injuries, and tragically, fatalities. When individuals are excessively tired, either physically or mentally, they may struggle to focus, experience slowed reaction times, impaired hand-eye coordination, and difficulty making sound judgments and identifying risks. In such circumstances, the likelihood of hazardous incidents occurring significantly increases.

What is fatigue?

Fatigue encompasses both mental and physical exhaustion, disrupting an individual’s ability to perform daily tasks effectively. It extends beyond mere tiredness or drowsiness, profoundly impacting one’s capability to carry out tasks safely and efficiently. Fatigue not only diminishes performance but also elevates the risk of workplace incidents resulting in injuries or equipment damage.

How does work contribute to fatigue?

Sources of fatigue in the workplace comprise impractical schedules, extended shifts, or inadequate intervals for recuperation between shifts. Additionally, harsh environmental elements such as extreme temperatures, vibrations, noise, and prolonged periods of intense mental or physical exertion contribute to fatigue. Those particularly susceptible to fatigue include shift workers, night workers, on-call employees, and fly-in fly-out workers. Industries most prone to fatigue-related risks encompass medical/​healthcare facilities, manufacturing/​processing plants, mining operations, and transportation sectors.

How can workplaces address fatigue?

Fatigue demands the same attention as any other workplace hazard. Initiate the process by conducting a thorough risk assessment to pinpoint potential factors such as work scheduling, extensive travel, and demanding job requirements. Consult with both the PCBU and the workers to understand the impact of their workloads and schedules. Additionally, analyse incident data to determine whether fatigue played (or could have played) a role in contributing to workplace incidents.

See our Fatigue Management training for further information: Fatigue Management — Training Course | The South Australian Business Chamber (busi​ness​-sa​.com)

Author

Cindy Jackway

Training Manager
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