Fatigue can increase the risk of injuries or other accidents. As an employer, it is important to make sure your workers are not experiencing signs or effects of fatigue while on the job. You can help make your employees and your business safer by including information on fatigue and sleep in your safety guidelines and orientations. So what exactly is fatigue? Fatigue is extreme tiredness or exhaustion resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness. Fatigue can also result from lack of sleep and can be intensified from prolonged mental activity or long periods of stress or anxiety. Repetitive tasks some workplaces present can also strengthen feelings of fatigue.
As well as physically demanding jobs, other factors such as long commutes, working overnight shifts, not having sufficient rest during or after prolonged shifts, long hours, work environment conditions like dim lighting or noisy surroundings, also play a role in workplace fatigue.
An estimated 38% of American employees sleep less than 7 hours a night and worker fatigue plays a large role in costing employers $138 billion annually in lost productivity. The majority of this production loss occurs while at work and isn’t due to missed days, as some may expect.
Ways to help keep your workers safe
- Schedule shifts that give workers enough time to rest
- If the job requires long hours or overtime, consider that your workers will need enough time for other daily activities, such as commuting, preparing and eating meals, socializing, and relaxing.
- Provide a work environment that has good lighting, comfortable temperatures, and reasonable noise levels.
- Ensure that jobs provide some variety, with work tasks that change throughout the shift — especially with jobs that have safety risks.
- If your workplace has long shifts or frequent overtime, consider providing amenities, such as the following:
- Prepared meals
- On-site accommodations and recreation
- Areas where workers can nap either during shift breaks or before driving home