Fatigue Puts Workers at Risk
Here in the UK we enjoy the benefit of working in one of the safest countries in the world with the number of workers fatally injured at a 7% lower average over the past five years. However, worker fatigue has been hitting the headlines in recent months and it’s an issue that could have serious implications for businesses, especially in high risk sectors like the construction industry and roofing work in particular.
Fatigue affects all of us in different ways, but one thing is for sure, an increase in worker fatigue usually leads to an increase in accidents in the workplace. Fatigue is a common problem for shift workers and those who carry out manual labour. It reduces reflex times, adversely affects co-ordination and productivity, causes health issues and can even lead to injuries and life threatening accidents in the workplace. This can lead to financial strain for businesses as it’s been revealed that a major injuries will cost the average business more than £16,000 in lost output and more than £5,000 in resource costs. The potential financial costs alone should make any employer pause to think about fatigue in the workplace and what can be done to avoid staff making common errors which could lead to an accident or injury, especially in the UK construction industry where mistakes can cost lives.
Your business should operate a stringent health and safety policy in line with HSE (Health and Safety Executive) requirements to ensure that your staff and protected and that you and your business are covered from a legal point of view.
In order to combat fatigue, you’ll need to have a well thought out shift rota, taking into account the following issues:
- Critical jobs are not arranged for low points during the day or night – for example, dangerous heavy machinery should not be operated towards the end of a worker’s night shift when fatigue may be setting in.
- Staff working hours should not be too long – according to the government working hours ruling, employees should not be expected to work more than 48 hours in a week.
- Make sure that employees have sufficient opportunity to get at least 8 hours of sleep between shifts.
- Ask your employees what they prefer – some people perform better at night while others perform better during the mornings – try to plan the rota around this.
While some workers have learned to cope with the symptoms of fatigue, this doesn’t mean that they will not be affected by it. Employee fatigue is a serious consideration for businesses and industries here in the UK so being on the lookout for any signs and symptoms of tiredness in your employees is essential. Make sure that you, as an employer, are aware of the dangers of fatigue and ensure that your employees undertake regular, updated health and safety training. Ensure that your employees are provided with high quality personal protective equipment (PPE) suitable for the type of work they undertake and that they use this equipment whenever necessary – being tired is no excuse for forgetting to take basic health and safety precautions in the workplace.