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Health and safetyApril 8, 2019
More than the occasional yawn or low energy, fatigue can become a serious health issue, impacting safety, productivity and workplace efficiency. If not addressed early it can even lead to other health conditions in employees, some of them chronic.
Fatigue doesn’t just impact the physical and mental health of your employees, it also impacts the health and safety of everyone else in the business. Also, depending on the particular job and responsibilities of the employee, fatigue can put the public at risk. Fatigue causes a lack of focus, slower reaction times to both situations and signals. It also affects an employee’s ability to make sound decisions. This can increase the risk of injuries, incidents, and accidents happening at work.
We all play a part in ensuring a safe workplace, and while we commonly think of manual handling and hazards as the most common safety risks we need to address, fatigue is also an important factor employers must consider.
Fatigue can be work-related, it can be related to one’s personal life or it could be a combination of the two. It can also be an accumulation over time or a short-term problem. Causes of fatigue in the workplace can include:
While employers can’t manage the aspects of an employee’s personal life that could be contributing to their fatigue, there are things you can do in the workplace to manage the risk and impacts of fatigue.
Speak to supervisors, managers, and your health and safety reps to discuss the impact of your work schedules and workload expectations. Be sure to consider work outside of normal hours, as well as work-related travel.
Look at work practices, consider worker records such as time sheets, and systems of work. Monitor and review human resource and workplace incident data to find patterns.
Are there resourcing, structural or process-driven reasons that employees could be experiencing fatigue? These might include:
There is no easy answer when it comes to addressing fatigue, often it is a multi-faceted approach that involves various aspects of an employee’s personal and professional life. But there are some simple tools and tactics you can introduce to your workplace that will help proactively manage fatigue:
Your employees should be provided with training and information regarding the factors that contribute to fatigue, as well as the associated risks. This will help them accept the controls that you implement, and improve how they perform in their role. If creating a fatigue management policy, then you should ensure training is provided to all workers and the policy is readily available to all employees.
Once you put controls in place, it’s up to you to monitor them to ensure they are effective and remain so. You may want to consider implementing a trial for any changes in rosters and schedules and allow your employees to offer feedback throughout. If you are changing any terms and conditions of employment, make sure you follow a fair process and document any changes accordingly.
If you need helping developing policies, procedures and workplace controls to manage fatigue, we can help you. Contact Employsure for a confidential discussion on employee fatigue, and the various ways we can support your business.