It can be a shock to the system returning to work after the Christmas period – and WorkSafe NZ are reminding workers that the likelihood of an incident goes up when fatigue enters the workplace.
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.
WorkSafe’s Acting Deputy General Manager Investigations and Technical Services, Simon Humphries, said there were lots of jobs that relied 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,” he said.
That’s why fatigue related risks need to managed just like any other workplace hazard. Whether you’re an employer or an employee, we all have a responsibility to manage fatigue in the workplace. 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 while there.
Tips for businesses to manage workplace fatigue
• Where possible, have good work schedules, working hours and rosters, monitor overtime, and limit periods of excessive mental or physical demand.
• 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 workplace fatigue:
• 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.
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