Fatigue Management At Work
We’ve all been there. It’s 2 p.m. and lunch is over, but instead of feeling recharged and focused. You’re ready to curl up in a corner, turn off the lights and take a nap. No one will notice, right?
While it’s completely normal to hit the dreaded afternoon slump, what happens when this feeling is around all day, every day?
Workplace fatigue isn’t just being physically tired—it’s being mentally exhausted.
So, what is work fatigue? Safe Work Australia define fatigue as “a mental and/or physical exhaustion that reduces your ability to perform your work safely and effectively”.
Signs of fatigue include:
- tiredness even after sleep
- reduced hand-eye coordination or slow reflexes
- short term memory problems and an inability to concentrate
- blurred vision or impaired visual perception
- a need for extended sleep during days off work.
Causes of Workplace Fatigue
Causes could be work related, personal or a combination of both. They can also be short term or accumulate over time.
Work causes of fatigue might include:
- Prolonged or intense mental or physical activity.
- Sleep loss and/or disruption of your internal body clock.
- Organisational change.
- Exceptionally hot or cold working environments.
- Work scheduling.
- Excessively long shifts.
- Not enough time to recover between shifts.
- Strenuous jobs.
- Long commuting times.
Research suggests that workers such as night workers, on call workers and shift workers are at greater risk of workplace fatigue due to the non-traditional pattern to their working week.
Impacts of fatigue in the workplace
Fatigue in the workplace doesn’t only impact on workers’ mental and physical health, it can also impact on the health and safety of those around them.
Fatigue can result in a lack of alertness, slower reactions to signals or situations, and affect a worker’s ability to make good decisions. This can increase the risk of incidents and injury in a workplace, particularly when:
- Operating fixed or mobile high-risk plant.
- Driving a vehicle.
- Working at heights.
- Working with flammable or explosive substances.
- Hazardous work, for example electrical work.
Taking care of ourselves
According to Safe Work Australia, workers have a duty to take reasonable care for their own safety and health.
As workers, it is important to get the balance right, getting the time to recover and relax and home so that you can perform safely and effectively at work.
If you think you have are suffering from work place fatigue it is important you consult your GP and speak to your employer.
For more information and support on workplace fatigue – a workers guide click here