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Health & Safety - Work Fatigue

Fatigue at Work

Being tired on the job is a huge problem for workers. If you can not fully function and perform your job duties correctly you are putting yourself and your coworkers at risk for injury. HealthandSafety Fatigue

What Is Fatigue?

Fatigue is defined as extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness. In simple terms, it is the feeling of being tired or exhausted. Fatigue can leave workers performing at lower levels and exposes them to a higher risk of injury. It is important to prevent fatigue while on the job and to keep everyone safe.

Fatigue in the Workplace Statistics

Fatigue can have disastrous consequences in the workplace, especially in the construction, industrial, and manufacturing sectors. When a worker's alertness level is affected, the incident rate of errors dramatically increases and these mistakes can result in injuries or even death. Some frightening statistics about workplace fatigue are as follows:

  • 38% of workers get less than 7 hours of sleep a night. It is recommended that adults get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Being awake for over 16 hours or getting less than 5 hours of sleep at night is the same as being intoxicated. Some levels of fatigue can be equated to blood alcohol levels. For instance, 17 hours with no sleep is comparable to a 0.05 BAC.
  • Injuries occur over three times more often in workers that have less than 5 hours of sleep per night. A study estimated that the rate of injury is 7.89 out of 100 employees who sustained injuries at work slept less than 5 hours.
  • A cost of $139 billion a year to employers in health-related lost productivity of their business due to fatigue. Companies and businesses are losing money due to the workers being tired.

Causes of Fatigue

Fatigue at work is more than just a feeling of being sleepy. It is a cocktail of feeling exhausted, low energy, sleepiness, and muddy thinking. Fatigue at work can stem from many things. The causes can include: Work Fatigue

  • Sleep deprivation
  • Too many demands at work or home
  • Medication
  • Other health problems such as depression or anxiety
  • Sleep disorders
  • Bad shift scheduling

No matter what the cause of fatigue is for a worker it can cause errors and accidents and the root of it needs to be found and dealt with.

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue at work is mental and physical exhaustion and related symptoms include:

  • Feeling tired even after you slept
  • Reduced eye-hand coordination
  • Slow reflexes
  • Short term memory problems
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Blurred or impaired vision
  • A need for more sleep on days off

Safe Work Practices to Prevent or Improve Fatigue Issues

  • Get plenty of rest. It is recommended to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep a night.
    If your work schedule is too demanding or the hours you are working are making you feel fatigued every single day, talk with a supervisor. Sometimes responsibilities or schedules can be altered to improve productivity and safety in the workplace.
  • It is important to understand the side effects of the medication before using it at work. Talk with your doctor to make sure he/she understands your work responsibilities to ensure the medication will not interfere with your performance.
  • Take care of your health. Addressing other health issues can greatly improve how you feel both at home and at work.
  • Eat a better diet. Food to humans is as gasoline is to a car– if you put dirty gas in your car, it will not run well. The same goes for your body!
  • For short periods of less intense fatigue, use caffeinated beverages to help you wake up. Another option is to get up from where you are working to stretch or take a walk.