Nowadays, people often glorify overtime culture and not getting enough sleep — all in the name of hustling and hard work.
Unfortunately, this has made stress part and parcel of work to the point that its serious repercussions are often overlooked, allowing a seemingly typical “tiring day” to stretch into fatigue.
Fatigue is defined by Medicine Net as a condition characterised by not being able to fulfil duties to the best of your ability, reduced efficiency, usually accompanied by feelings of weariness and tiredness.
In the workplace, fatigue is a growing problem.
This is due to the very demanding jobs, long hours, and accumulated sleep debt that are common in many industries, especially for physically taxing roles like drivers, pilots, and power plant workers.
The detrimental effects of fatigue are far-reaching and can include decreased cognitive performance, reduced productivity, and health risks such as depression and cardiovascular diseases.
However, these consequences expand way beyond the workplace.
Fatigued individuals are also more likely to get into life-threatening accidents. The National Health Interview Survey found that the annual injury incidence rate per 100 workers is approximately 7.89 for workers who usually sleep less than five hours per day.
Compare this to the 2.27% rate for those who tend to sleep between seven and eight hours. These mistakes aren’t just minor slip-ups. It is estimated that work accidents cost the UK around £115 – £240 million per year.
Take for example the 1988 Clapham Junction rail crash, also known as one of the most tragic fatigue-related accidents in history, which took the lives of 35 people and injured 500.
While most reports blame faulty wiring, it was later revealed that the railroad technician had been having seven-day workweeks for the past 13 weeks — definitely a crucial contributing factor to the disaster.
Therefore, fatigue isn’t the kind of tired that is easily solved by a cup of coffee. Employers and organisations must make serious changes to their workplace culture and play a more active role in ensuring employee safety. These are some steps they can take.
Awareness education and training
Sometimes, people have to be reminded exactly what the implications of fatigue are. Employers can hold occasional medical check-ups and talks that discuss the importance of sleep, balanced diet and exercise, and alertness strategies.
Track work hours
The biggest culprit to sleep deprivation is long work hours. Thankfully, advanced tools such as our Safety PAL software can help manage fatigue.
It comes with a unique Fatigue Risk Report feature that monitors workers’ hours and determines their risk of harm. This tool also helps ensure that companies comply with all safety regulations and avoid fines.
Meanwhile in the US, government-mandated electronic logging devices (ELDs) aim to prevent driver exhaustion among trucking fleets. Verizon Connect lists how ELDs notify both drivers and management when the former is nearing his or her maximum hours of service.
This helps drivers determine when they should or shouldn’t push through with a trip, even if they think they are capable, this in turn will help them to manage their time better.
Tech like this is especially crucial among US highways, where trucks and other large vehicles are at higher risk of motor accidents every day, with many occurring due to driver exhaustion.
Locally, Brake UK reveals a similar dilemma, as one in six car crashes are due to fatigued drivers. Because they spend long hours at the wheel while constantly staying alert, drivers are at high risk.
Provide comfortable amenities that promote their well-being
For offices where people typically work extended hours, it is a good to have areas where employees can nap during breaks, or after their shifts as they prepare to drive home. Good lighting and a comfortable temperature can also help reduce strain and stress.
For more information on health and safety solutions, explore our site here at Safety PAL
Solely written for yoursafetypal.com by Abby Hart