Fatigue at the Workplace

By HSE East Africa | Saturday Aug 18, 2018

Fatigue is the state of feeling very tired, exhausted, weary, or sleepy. Fatigue results from a lack of sleep and can be heightened from prolonged mental activity or long periods of stress or anxiety. Boring or repetitive tasks can also intensify feelings of fatigue.

Fatigue can be acute or chronic. Acute fatigue results from a sudden onset of short-term sleep loss, such as getting less sleep than normal before a work shift. Adequate sleep is necessary to reverse the effects of acute fatigue. Chronic fatigue is a long-term state that results from an extended loss of necessary sleep. A sleep debt can build over weeks or months from a reduction or disruption of a normal sleep routine.

Worker fatigue could increase the risk of injuries or other accidents. The employer should make sure that workers are not experiencing signs or effects of fatigue on the job. Provision of information on fatigue and sleep in your safety guidelines will help keep your workers and business safe. You can also develop a fatigue management plan.

Supervisors and workers need to recognize the immediate signs and symptoms of fatigue, which include;

  • Tiredness or sleepiness
  • Memory lapses
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Slower reaction times

Tips to help your workers stay safe

  • Shift schedules created should give workers enough time
  • The job should have variety to avoid monotony and alternating the tasks throughout the shift. Be flexible when assigning tasks — assign workers who may be fatigued to tasks that aren’t safety sensitive.
  • Jobs that requires long hours or overtime, should consider that workers will need ample time for other daily activities, such as commuting, preparing and eating meals, socializing, and relaxing.
  • The work environment should be serene providing good lighting, comfortable temperatures, and reasonable noise levels.
  • If the workplace has long shifts or frequent overtime, the employer could consider providing ready meals, accommodation for the workers and facilities where workers can nap either during the shift or before driving home.

Source : Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC 

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