Sleeping on the job? Managing fatigue in the workplace

Coffee_ZZZZZzWe all know that tiredness can make us grouchy and slow to react&#8230 but did you know it could also put your life at threat? Back in 2012, a nicely-reported French survey found that sleepiness behind the wheel is virtually as negative as drinking and driving, and that drivers who were either drunk or sleepy had been at least twice as likely to be responsible for a automobile accident compared to their nicely-rested or sober counterparts. What is less well publicised, however, is the part fatigue can play on other sorts of accidents – specifically in the workplace. In this brief post we appear at the dangers posed by sleepy workers, as well as taking into consideration the actions we can take to make sure they don’t come to, or result in any, harm.

What is fatigue?

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), fatigue refers to the: decline in mental and/or physical overall performance that results from prolonged exertion, sleep loss and/or disruption of the internal clock. It can result in slower reactions, reduced capacity to process data, memory lapses, absent-mindedness, decreased awareness, lack of interest, underestimation of risk and lowered coordination. Fatigue can lead to errors and accidents, ill-well being and injury, and reduced productivity. Fatigue has been shown to be a aspect in some of the worst industrial disasters in history, such as the Chernobyl Disaster, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the 2005 Texas City refinery explosion, and is estimated to cost the UK between £115 million and £240 million per year in terms of function accidents alone.

What causes fatigue?

You will undoubtedly know from your personal private experiences that there are numerous person causes of fatigue, such as late nights out, young youngsters disturbing your sleep or medical sleep issues such as insomnia. However, there are also a number of perform-connected factors that employers need to think about. One particular of the most considerable of these aspects is poorly made shift-functioning arrangements and lengthy working hours, which means employees accrue a ‘sleep debt’. With 3.5 million men and women employed as shift workers in the UK, this is 1 region that every single employer requirements to consider meticulously. Evening workers are particularly at danger of fatigue since their day sleep is typically lighter, shorter and far more effortlessly disturbed because of daytime noise and a organic reluctance to sleep in the course of daylight. Keep in mind, the legal duty is on employers to handle risks from fatigue, irrespective of any individual’s willingness to operate extra hours or preference for particular shift patterns for social causes.


How can I handle the risks?

One particular of the front lines of defence when it comes to managing fatigue is the Operating Time Regulations, which locations limits on the quantity of hours that employees can perform, and the number of hours that are cost-free from function and offered for sleep, rest and leisure activities. While this is undoubtedly essential, compliance of the regulation alone is not adequate to handle the risks of fatigue, and other measures need to therefore be deemed, such as:

  • Fatigue management training programmes
  • Redesigned shift-schedules
  • Create employee fatigue reporting schemes

Most importantly, fatigue need to be recognised and managed like any other workplace hazard – by carrying out a danger assessment that seeks to recognize the particular elements of an operation that pose a fatigue threat, the threat is quantified and a selection of different controls are deemed for implementation. With this in mind, The Energy Institute recommends the adoption of a fatigue danger management strategy (FRMP) which is defined as:

A threat-primarily based program or method of controls that identifies, monitors and manages fatigue danger, with the aim of making certain that, so far as reasonably practicable, personnel are performing with an sufficient level of alertness. An FRMP need to be risk and proof-based, but grounded by operational knowledge and practicalities. It ought to also be integrated into current corporate safety and overall health management systems.

For an in depth appear at how ideal to adopt an FRMP, please see the Power Institute’s 2014 publication, Managing fatigue employing a fatigue threat management plan (FRMP).

Now read this!

Driver Fatigue and Road Accidents

Beneath Pressure: Managing operate associated stress – Component 1

Influencing behaviour: Tackling drugs and alcohol in the workplace

Threat assessment template? Why a single size doesn’t match all

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