While every organisation can be affected by work-related fatigue, some industry sectors have an inherently higher risk of fatigue when irregular hours, stressful environments, demanding workloads, or shift work are part of their business model.
Worker fatigue significantly impacts individuals, their colleagues, and the workplace and must be managed like all health and safety hazards.
While the ultimate responsibility lies with management, everyone within a workplace has a responsibility for health and safety, both physical and psychological, to ensure that fatigue does not create a risk to their own or anyone else’s safety.
Fatigue is not merely feeling drowsy
Fatigue is far more than feeling a little tired. A state of mental and/or physical exhaustion, fatigue reduces a person’s capability to remain alert and adversely affects their capacity to do their work safely and effectively.
Fatigue can occur due to prolonged mental or physical activity, sleep loss and/or disruption to the internal body clock. Work and non-work-related factors or a combination of both can contribute to fatigue, which can accumulate over time.
In fact, the effects of fatigue on work performance can be compared to being affected by alcohol. Being awake for 17 hours impairs performance to the same level as having a blood alcohol level of 0.05. While being awake for 20 hours has the same effect as having a 0.1 blood alcohol level.
Those who are most at risk of suffering from fatigue due to their work include:
· Emergency service personnel working in extreme conditions
· Construction workers with heavy and demanding workloads
· Defence personnel working in stressful environments
· Shift workers and night workers
· Fly-in/fly-out workers
· Seasonal workers
· On-call/call-back personnel
· Medical professionals and other healthcare workers.
Understanding the signs of fatigue
Working hours, either the number of hours or their scheduling, can significantly affect the risk of work-related accidents, injury and illness.
Signs or symptoms that may indicate worker fatigue include:
· Inability to concentrate
· Unable to recollect timings and events/short-term memory problems
· Poor judgment
· Reduced capacity to engage in effective interpersonal communication
· Reduced hand-eye coordination
· Reduced visual perception
· Reduced vigilance
· Impaired reaction times
· Increased rates of unplanned absences.
These effects represent great risks to industries, organisations, and personnel by:
· Negatively impacting workplace morale
· Increasing the opportunity for accidents and serious injuries
· Risking damage to valuable plant and equipment.
Additionally, research has linked negative health effects with inadequate management of long-term shift work and demanding workloads and environments, including:
· Heart disease
· High blood pressure
· Stomach and other gastrointestinal disorders
Managing the risk of fatigue
Everyone has a work health and safety obligation to manage the risk of fatigue, although the ultimate responsibility lies with the management of an organisation.
The three steps outlined below assist organisations in managing the risk of fatigue in their workers.
Identify all foreseeable hazards and factors that indicate risk.
Assess the risk of accident, harm or injury from each identified hazard.
Implement control measures to eliminate or minimise the risks.
Control measures to manage the risk of fatigue
By implementing control measures, the risk of fatigue can be eliminated or significantly reduced. Some examples include:
· Encouraging personnel to report fatigue before, during, or after a shift.
· Assessing an individual who may be at risk of fatigue:
- How much sleep/rest have they had in the past 24 hours?
- How many hours since they last slept?
- Are there medical conditions which need to be considered?
- How strenuous is their workload?
- Are they working in a demanding/stressful environment?
· Reviewing the resources available and deploying additional resources if possible
· Ensuring adequate break times
· Supervising fatigued personnel
· Providing access to amenities such as water, food, and resting facilities
· Ensuring the resting facilities reduce noise, provide black-out options for daytime sleepers, and provide a comfortable, climate-controlled environment.
The Humanihut Field Infrastructure System: the ideal solution to assist fatigue management
Proven in assisting fatigue management for emergency services personnel but ideal for use across all industries and sectors, the Humanihut Field Infrastructure System(HFIS) is a rigid, rapidly redeployable, fully integrated, climate-controlled temporary infrastructure solution.
What sets the HFIS apart from its competitors is the unique, rigid, folding-wall, pop-up design, allowing up to eight huts to be flat-packed into a customised shipping container for efficient transportation and storage.
And with all components, accessories and necessary utilities integrated for rapid deployment and ease of establishment, the HFIS can run independently without mains water, power and/or wastewater infrastructure.
Structures are strong, rigid, climate-controlled and able to withstand the harshest climatic conditions, making them ideally suited for accommodation with noise reduction and black-out abilities, office spaces, meal or recreation areas, and/or storage requirements.
With the ability to redeploy as often as required throughout its 20-year lifespan, the HFIS provides a versatile solution to meet individual client requirements; operationally, financially and environmentally.
And, for a complete site management solution, whether you already have an established site or require temporary infrastructure, Humanihut Logistics can provide a customised solution to meet your requirements, which can include:
· 24/7 Onsite Managers
· Full catering specific to client, dietary and cultural requirements
· Daily waste removal
· Laundering of linen and towels
· Interpreting services
· Customised onsite activities
· Medical/health support, if required (including COVID-19 quarantine health support).
Our highly skilled and experienced team has the capability to ensure your daily site operations are seamlessly and professionally managed, while ensuring the safety, comfort and wellbeing of occupants and staff.
With purchase and short, medium or long-term rental options available, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about how Humanihut Pty Ltd can assist you in managing the risk of fatigue in your workplace.