Identifying and Stopping Workplace Fatigue

Identifying and Stopping Workplace Fatigue

Whether it’s due to tight deadlines or an increased workload, or something going on in their personal life, a fatigued employee can endanger themselves and others in your organization. Here are a few tips to help you identify and stop workplace fatigue, along with some ways to help you get back on track.

How Common is Fatigue in the Workplace?

The amount of sleep an employee gets each night has a direct correlation to injury incidence. According to the U.S. Health Interview Survey, people who sleep less than 5 hours a day are almost 3 times more likely to injure themselves than those who get between 8 and 9 hours of sleep.

Unfortunately, according to a 2016 NIOSH study about 38 percent of U.S. workers sleep less than seven hours each night.

Spotting Fatigue

Fatigue is the body’s response to sleep deprivation, lengthy, strenuous mental or physical work, or repetitive or boring tasks.

Regrettably, a person experiencing fatigue may not realize it themselves. Therefore, businesses need to include fatigue in their risk management plan so they can spot the signs of fatigue before an incident occurs. Here are some of the most common signs of fatigue:

  • Reduced productivity
  • Reduced work quality
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Struggles to solve problems
  • Makes errors in judgment
  • Can’t focus
  • Continually yawns
  • Head droops
  • Has a near-miss accident

If you spot the signs of fatigue, it is important you identify the contributing factors. Both outside and workplace factors can create it. If an employee gets plenty of sleep and is always tired, factors such as nutrition and stress can be the cause and the employee may need professional assistance.

Fighting Workplace Fatigue

Fatigue should be part of any effective risk management plan. Factors such as long work hours, overtime, working many days consecutively, or working in environmentally harsh conditions can all increase risk.

According to OSHA, almost one-quarter of American workers spend over 40 hours a week in the workplace. Additionally, almost 15 million employees work night, rotating or irregular shifts, for much more than 40 hours per week. Long work hours can increase stress, lead to poor eating habits, reduce exercise, and cause illness.

Employers can’t control how long their employees sleep, but they can educate employees about the risks of fatigue and provide resources to reduce the risk. For instance, employers may want to offer information on adequate sleep requirements, sleep disorders, alertness strategies, and the importance of diet and exercise.

They can also monitor fatigue; balance workload and staff, schedule shifts to reduce fatigue risk, and design the workplace properly. Increasing the brightness, reducing the temperature and humidity, and eliminating monotonous noises are just a few strategies.

Most companies have times when they place greater demands on employees. However, continually demanding too much of them (even when they’re willing) increases their risk of injury, absenteeism, and additional physical and social problems.

Managing risk includes consultation, diagnosis, and proactive planning. Let Gilberts’ Risk Solutions help you assess and control your risks. We’ve helped business for over 160 years and we can help you manage fatigue risk.

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