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Keep fatigue out of the workplace

It’s a shock to the system going back to work after the holidays, particularly after a couple of weeks off over Christmas. It’s a good time to remember to look after yourself and keep getting enough sleep as the likelihood of a work-related incident can be higher if you are fatigued.

“Lots of jobs rely on workers being physically and mentally alert to keep them and others safe.  “Fatigue is more than being tired – it’s physical and/or mental exhaustion, to the extent people are no longer effective or safe at work,” says WorkSafe’s Acting Deputy General Manager Investigations and Technical Services, Simon Humphries.

Fatigue is a work-related health risk if it reduces ability and alertness to work safely and effectively. It can also affect people’s wellbeing, impact productivity and lead to safety incidents.

Both businesses and workers are responsible for managing fatigue and the associated risks. Businesses must ensure the health and safety of workers and actively manage workplace risks. Workers need to turn up fit for work and consider their safety and the safety of others whilst there.

Top tips for businesses to manage risks around fatigue in the workplace:

  • Eliminate the risk if you can reasonably do so through having good work schedules, working hours and rosters, monitoring overtime, limiting periods of excessive mental or physical demands.
  • Involve your workers when identifying and working out how to manage work risks as they have useful operational knowledge.
  • Make sure workers know they can make suggestions, ask questions or raise concerns.
  • Monitor and review how work could be managed to minimise fatigue risks - such as having better processes, workflows and workstation conditions.
  • Ensure workers know the signs and symptoms of fatigue so they know what to look out for. 
If you can’t eliminate the risk, work out how to keep fatigue risk to a minimum such as developing a fatigue policy for managers and workers, having a reporting system workers can use when fatigued or there is a fatigue-related incident, and use the information to improve your fatigue risk management.

Tips for workers to manage fatigue risks:

  • Keep hydrated at work, take your breaks and before agreeing to working overtime think about whether it could impact your health and safety. Ask for a variety of work if you regularly do repetitive tasks.
  • Let your manager know if you’re too tired to work safely, or to safely travel to or from work.
  • At home, aim to get seven to nine hours of good quality sleep and make sure you have time to relax on days off.

Worksafe have a fatigue quick guide with information for businesses and workers to explain their respective responsibilities to manage fatigue:

Fatigue - Quick guide (PDF 128 KB)


 

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