Safety at Work: Fatigue and Safety

Fatigue is a Safety Program Issue

 Safety Program members, especially ones whom are initiating a new program, look for ways to assess and rank “risk factors" which are associated with poor safety habits.  One of the leading causes of dangerous or “at Risk" activities, is fatigue.  Plain and simple fatigue.  But, fatigue is not so simple, as it comes in many shapes and forms.  Therefore recognizing this element, in the safety minded work environment, is essential and should be addressed.

The National Sleeping Disorder Institute research, has shown that sleep deprivation and worker’s fatigue can bring about some undesirable results, for those working shifts, particularly night and early morning shifts.   Worker’s whom are having difficulty sleeping during the day-time or early morning hours have a decreased performance and a higher likely hood of causing or being involved in an accident.

If workers are fatigued, their work will suffer.  They will be less able to concentrate on tasks, make bad decisions, make more errors.  All of these can significantly to accidents or injuries, due to a declining base of reaction times and attention to the environment they are working in.  This may become more relevant in night or shift workers, workers whom work irregular shifts and those pulling long or rotation shift work schedules.

All attempts to reduce risks associated with fatigue, can improve health and safety of everyone, and improve the bottom line of the business.  Fatigue reduction, can not only save in losses, due to injury or property damages, it can also reduce the amount of sick days and illnesses being spread within the work place.  Although all of these matters will allow the business to safety related expenditures, but will increase work efficiency and production quality levels, within the work place.

Assessing And Managing Fatigue For Safety

There are many different shift work-schedules and each schedule has different features. The variation of working shifts and their demands, can not be avoided. Since there is no single scheduling system that will fit everyone, reporting of performance reductions and employee’s ability to adapt to stressful duties, during various shifts can help in reducing shift fatigue, among employees.

Issues which should be considered during the assessment of fatigue values, within a workplace scheduling system, include:

Shift work loads
Shift Durations
Shift splitting
concentration required to perform tasks.
Break schedules
Break durations.

Identifying Fatigue:

There is no single answer to this question, and the answer may be difficult to find. However this element of health and safety should not be disregarded. Earlier it was suggested that employee’s be rated and reported on a regular basis. Even if regular employee rating periods are not scheduled, employers and safety personnel, should initiate an interview and review process, lasting over a period of time, prior to deciding to take actions regarding an employees status.

The Review Process should be both done through visual observation and written reporting, prior to discussions in an intervention interview. Some key elements which should be looked at is:

  • Reliance on others to perform work duties
  • moments of inattentiveness or lack of concentration
  • Ability to follow orders or requests, completely
  • sleepiness during shift
  • mood swings and irritability towards other employees or on the phone.
  • Clumsy movements or speech throughout the employees shift.
  • Forgetfulness causing emplyees to have a high occurance of returning to recheck duties already performed.

Fatigue is a serious problem, much like an addiction, and is all too often overlooked and excused. This issue, is worthy of even the most basic of safety program members, and any business management team to push out to the forefront, of outside counselors, regarding fatigue issues, may show the employee s/he is important part of the business.. It will show the employer, through his/her participation and openness to the opportunity, That s/he is taking responsibility and showing concern towards finding a mutually acceptable solution.

Show Your Employees You Want To Help


Although it may be stated that  the issue of fatigue has to be monitored to such an extent which would all the employee to have a ready made excuse, for every incident.  Moreover, it should not be allowed to be used as a method of employees, to shirk off responsibility regarding  their abilities or in-ability to get the job done properly and safely.

Striking up a perfect balance will be difficult and different, for each employer.  However, by monitoring the work habits of employees, by immediate supervisors can allow an open window, to finding those employees whom are having problems or whom have been involved in an incident recently.   Upon locating an issue, carefully evaluation of the reasons such reasons may exist, should be addressed aggressively and immediately.  However, by working towards the benefit of allowing proper rest, and relief from anxiety, which contributes to fatigue, will go along way in moral  within the working staff members.

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Comments 2 comments

Mylindaminka 3 years ago

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