People aren’t meant to for 24/7 operations, we are physiologically programmed to sleep during the night and be active during the day. Throw into the equation personal frailties and psychological factors and we have a serious health and safety issue that has, until recent times, received very little attention.

Whether it is a stressed and sleep deprived mother or an experienced truck driver, rushing to meet a deadline, fatigue is ubiquitous in modern culture and requires management, education and training.
The consequences of fatigue can be disastrous; the detrimental effects of fatigue have been implicated in major disasters such as the Chernobyl and the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.

A fatigue management plan can help in identifying workers at risk, the warning signs of fatigue and controls that can be used in combating fatigue. Lessons learned from a robust management plan or a well delivered fatigue management training session can be applied outside of work and help people deal with this issue in all areas of their life.

If you have not had the chance to attend fatigue management training, or your workplace does not have a fatigue management plan in place, keep reading for a few tips on recognising and controlling this hazard.

Noticing signs of fatigue.

  1. Constant yawning or falling asleep at work
  2. Short term memory problems and an inability to concentrate
  3. Noticeably reduced capacity to engage in effective interpersonal communication
  4. Impaired decision-making and judgment
  5. Reduced hand-eye coordination or slow reflexes.

The best cure of fatigue is sleep. So if you feel like you are suffering, attempt to get some deep and peaceful rest.

  1. Use plant or machinery to lower physical demands of job
  2. Redesign job to include a variety of mental and physical tasks
  3. Use rest periods
  4. Schedule safety critical work outside low body clock hours
  5. Develop a working-hours policy on daily work hours, maximum average weekly hours, total hours over a three month period and work related travel.

For more information on management of fatigue, follow the links below:

http://www.vwa.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/9197/vwa_fatigue_handbook.pdf

http://www.comcare.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/121691/Managing_the_risk_of_fatigue.pdf