Fatigue in the workplace can go unnoticed, but its effects are adverse.
Fatigue can seriously affect workplace safety as reduced alertness can lead to errors and increase work incidents and injuries, especially in safety-critical industries or in tasks that require a high level of concentration.
Fatigue is more than feeling tired and drowsy. In a work context, fatigue is a state of mental and/or physical exhaustion which reduces a person’s ability to perform work safely and effectively. It can occur because of prolonged mental or physical activity, sleep loss and/or disruption of the internal body clock.
The cost of stress and fatigue costs Australia over $10 billion a year. Globally, fatigue costs $500 billion in accidents, lost productivity, and health care costs.
Both employers and employees have a duty to ensure that fatigue does not create a risk to health and safety in the workplace.
Employers are responsible for making sure that work conditions are safe, and should put into place systems or guidelines to control risks linked to fatigue.
On the other hand, employees are responsible for being fit for duty when they turn up at work. This includes making sure they are well-rested between work shifts, and letting their employers know if they feel fatigued.
Safe Work Australia’s Guide for Managing the Risk of Fatigue at Work is an excellent guide for employees and employers, but for those who lack the time and energy to go through a 26-page document, check out the informative graphic by Quill below.
Many factors may contribute to and increase the risk of fatigue, such as tiring work schedules, high job demands, lack of sleep, or non-work related problems such as family issues, personal problems, illnesses, or an unhealthy lifestyle.
The important thing is to find ways to better cope and prevent fatigue from affecting you.
Simple steps such as getting better sleep, being in the daylight at least 30 minutes a day, eating healthy and nutritional food, and drinking more water can all add up to more energy throughout the day. And of course, no matter what type of work you do, taking regular breaks and increasing movement throughout the day can help you feel less tired while at work.
For employers, monitoring employees’ work hours, encouraging healthy food and movement in the workplace, and providing stress management tools can help create a better, more productive workplace and reduce employee absenteeism from stress or tiredness.
Work can be a significant contributor to stress, distress, and a lack of well-being, but with simple steps as recommended above, both employers and employees can work towards a healthy, fatigue-free workplace.