Understanding Workplace Fatigue: Causes, Symptoms and Solutions to Workplace Fatigue

July 30 2020 0comment

Understanding Workplace Fatigue: Causes, Symptoms and Solutions to Workplace Fatigue

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Our daily and normal routines could be disrupted by different circumstances, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has made it very difficult for some workers to take care of their physical, mental, and emotional health, a situation that could cause worker fatigue. Workplace fatigue reduces one’s capacity to perform tasks safely and effectively, and this could result in injuries and even fatalities in the workplace. In order to combat the fatigue, it’s important to first understand the causes and symptoms. Please read on.

Common Causes of Workplace Fatigue

  • Changes in work routine that may include hygiene, PPE, additional cleaning and disinfection requirements. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to consider phasing and shift working, which may cause worker fatigue over time.

  • Working overnight shifts.

  • Lack of access to the tools and equipment necessary to get the job done.

  • Taking care of personal or family needs while at work.

  • Increased physical demands at work.

  • Tasks that are monotonous, repetitive, difficult, or that demand prolonged focus.

  • Lifting heavy objects or operating machinery.

  • Work environments with dim lighting, high noise levels, or high temperatures.

  • Long commutes.

Signs and Symptoms of Workplace Fatigue

The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of workplace fatigue:

  • Slower reaction times.

  • Confusion or memory lapses.

  • Yawning continuously.

  • Emotional instability or irritability.

  • Impaired focus or difficulty concentrating.

  • Difficulty keeping your eyes open.

  • Feeling sleepy, tired or weary.

  • Increased errors in judgement.

  • Feeling physically or mentally exhausted.

Common Effects of Workplace Fatigue

  • Increased incidence of injuries and fatalities

  • Lower productivity

  • Poor decision making

How Can You Minimise Worker Fatigue?

The most effective way to address worker fatigue is by eliminating the causes of fatigue. It’s imperative that employers treat workplace fatigue as both a physical and psychological issue and try to solve both sides of the issue. This calls for a long-term plan to efficiently battle the problem and maintain safety in your workplace. You need to embrace the following tips to help minimize worker fatigue and prevent possible injuries:

  • Encourage your workforce to avoid over-exposure to news to avoid watching or reading fake news. Rumours can be upsetting and mentally exhausting, especially during times of a crisis, like the current COVID-19 pandemic. You may suggest reliable sites and sources where they could access the right information to avoid unnecessary stress from wrong information, usually from social media.

  • Introduce a reporting system for fatigue-related incidents to supervisors and managers. Encourage your employees to check in with each other while working to ensure everyone is coping with work demands and hours. This also helps the workers reach out help when in need. However, you need to first ensure compliance with the social distancing UK guidelines to prevent further transmission of the virus.

  • Consider shift scheduling with frequent breaks to enable the employees to have enough rest and sleep. Taking breaks from work will also help the workers to stretch, exercise, or check-in with supporting groups to help address their issues. This also helps protect their mental health by clearing their minds off work and doing things they enjoy outside work.

  • Introduce employee training on fatigue and managing sleep disorders. Here, ensure to inform them of the dangers of working if they feel their fatigue threatens their safety or that of others. They should be able to tell when they are experiencing any of the aforementioned signs and symptoms hence reporting to their supervisors to allow for proper solutions to help maintain a safe work environment.

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