Fatigue has taken a huge toll on the workplace industry and most of the time, it is a result of employees being overworked or a lack of sleep. People become restless and too tired to think and do their jobs safely hence they cannot concentrate on what they are doing. There are major consequences when employees are not focused and it can be costly both to the employees and to the company.
Depending on the type of work that they are doing, employees can experience different levels of physical exhaustion. Studies have shown that those who work a night shift or longer shifts are more likely to experience sleep-deprivation. However, sleep-deprivation can impact us all. More than 37% of the total workforce has experienced sleep deprivation at work.
A new survey being done by the National Safety Council also reveals that about 81% of respondents in their study have jobs that are at a higher risk of physical fatigue. These workers are usually employed in construction or as vehicle drivers.
Over fatigue can create significant effects on the physical capacities, mental health and psychological stability of a worker. It can decrease safety and productivity when they become too tired. In 2014, more than 5,000 people were involved in a drowsy-driving accident.
There is also a huge cost for employers when workers go through physical fatigue.
- Employers cost $136 billion of health-related lost productivity every year.
- There is a productivity cost of $1,200 to $3,100 per employee each year.
At the same time, employees may have little understanding of sleep importance thus would submit to high physical pressures on the job. It can be too easy at times to simply “go through the motions” when you are sleep deprived which can often lead to serious injury.
Leading causes of workplace fatigue:
- Exposure to high levels of noise
- Intake of substances like alcohol and caffeine can affect the normal levels of sleep
- Too frequent exposure to high temperatures
- Poor workplace lighting or dim lights
- Lack of sleep
- Sleeping disorders including Sleep Apnea, Insomnia and restless Leg Syndrome
- Overworked due to long shifts
- Sleep adjustment for night shifts
How to Identify Fatigue
- Lapses in memory – Short term or long term
- Exhaustion or sleepiness – Constant yawning, weak body and the need to always sit or lay down
- Slow reaction
- A clear lack in concentration
- Physical sickness – Headaches are constantly reported
Overcoming Workplace Fatigue
One effective way to manage fatigue is by getting enough sleep each night. Implementing a good sleeping habit can aid in the attainment of 7 to 8 hours of undisturbed sleep.
Avoidance of stimulants like caffeine and alcohol a few hours before bedtime can also minimize sleep problems. Studies have found that having coffee after 2:00 pm can negatively affect a person’s quality of sleep. The establishment of a good sleeping environment is also as important.
For employers, they can assist their worker in the proper management of physical work through providing conducive and safe work areas. Proper lighting is crucial for workers to accomplish their tasks as well as a cool and comfortable atmosphere.
Work hours must also be regulated so as not to overwork an employee and result in constant long or back to back shifts. Employers can process trainings and educational seminars to help workers deal with workplace fatigue and teach them the proper ways to take care of themselves.