How to reduce the risk of fatigue in your workplace
By Joanna Weekes
Does your workplace have procedures in place for avoiding future health and safety risks?
While the processes for identifying existing risks in your workplace are imperative, just as important are the processes you have in place to eliminate future potential health and safety risk.
In following this week’s fatigue management theme, today we have a few tips for reducing the likelihood of fatigued workers affecting your workplace.
11 tips to reduce the risk of fatigue in your workplace
Use the following tips to reduce the likelihood of fatigue becoming a health and safety concern in your workplace:
- Consult your workers (and HSRs) about issues surrounding fatigue hazards and make sure they feel comfortable to share their concerns with you.
- Design jobs around controlling the mental and physical demands associated with the job, e.g. ensure adequate staffing and resources to do the job without placing excessive demands on workers.
- Place strong importance on job rotation and task variation.
- Leave enough time between shifts for workers to have the rest time they require to recuperate before their next shift.
- Consider your workers’ working environment, e.g. extreme temperatures, shelter for those outdoors, facilities, lighting.
- Educate your workers on fatigue management.
- Allow your workers sufficient rest periods and breaks during their shifts.
- Take an active role in encouraging your workers to take leave rather than accumulate it. Remind them that leave is an important time to recuperate from stress and fatigue.
- Ensure adequate amenities are provided, e.g. plenty of water is available.
- Ensure your workers feel able to take advantage of their sick leave entitlement when they need it. (Do not create a workplace where ‘presenteeism’ is prevalent – i.e. when your workers feel the need to attend work when they are ill. A worker believing the workplace cannot function without them or that their job is at risk if they do not attend can cause this.)
- You can also design the roster to reduce/avoid:
- overtime or encouraging extended hours (limit shifts to 12 hours maximum – including overtime);
- nights shifts (unless they are necessary);
- high-risk work being carried out during night shifts;
- sequential night shifts/long shifts (no more than four in a row); and
- last minute shift changes and roster shuffling (allowing workers to plan their time off).
Once you have identified high-risk workers and implemented measures (such as those above) to reduce the risk, monitoring and supervising is critical.
Remain vigilant over your workplace and workers, and try to pick up on signs that a worker’s performance may not be at its peak.
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