Fatigue and burnout in the workplace can have serious negative implications on the health and safety of employees. The issue of fatigue management is again at the forefront following the recent death of 24 year-old Indonesia writer Mita Diran, who died following 30 hours of non-stop work for ad agency Young & Rubicam. Her twitter account revealed Diran had been consistently working overtime with one post reading:

“Alright, one full week of going home past 2am from the office. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we just broke a record.”

Her final tweet on December 14 read “30 hours of working and still going strooong [sic]”.

While this case is in Indonesia where fatigue management regulations are not particularly strict, it effectively highlights the potentially hazardous role that fatigue and burnout can play in any workplace. It is always important to recognise and combat fatigue no matter what industry you belong to.

In WA strict guidelines have been in place since July 2003 to help manage the risks for transport operators. It is recommended that transport operators develop a fatigue management plan, provide training for all drivers and make sure drivers have been deemed medically fit to drive a commercial vehicle. Commercial vehicle drivers can work up to 17 hours in one day but not every day – they cannot exceed 45 hours of work over a 72 hour period. They must also incorporate a 20 minute break for every 5 hours of work time.

Less guidelines are in place for industries that are not transport operators and it is therefore the responsibility of employers and employees to manage the risk. While the employer can ensure that employees don’t work lengthy hours, controlling work hours of employees becomes more difficult if they continue to work away from the office. The culture is such that nowadays many people think nothing of calling people after hours or when they are leave which only contributes to burnout!

In these industries that do not regulate work hours as strictly employers should keep a close eye on the amount of overtime people are working and how this is corresponding to employee wellbeing. Managing burnout and continued monitoring of fatigue in the workplace is important. As well as this the individual can learn to manage their own fatigue and recognise the warning signs.

Educating and training workers about fatigue and burnout and the risks associated with them is essential. This is where Fluro comes in. Be sure to keep an eye out for our new Fatigue Management course that will be rolled out in 2014!