Combating Fatigue in the Workplace

Being mentally and physically aware in the workplace contributes to safe behavior and can help prevent unnecessary incidents. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 13 percent of workplace injuries are attributed to fatigue. Contrary to popular belief, fatigue can be caused by more than just lack of sleep. Working long hours, medical conditions, environmental factors and a heavy workload can all lead to occupational fatigue. In fact, the NSC states that 97 percent of workers have at least one fatigue risk factor and 80 percent have at least two. When there are any risk factors involved, the potential for on-the-job injuries increases.


How Fatigue Can Affect You

Fatigue affects not just your safety on the job, but your health as well. Here are some ways that fatigue can affect you:

  • Poor work performance and productivity
  • Memory lapses and/or poor concentration
  • Slower reflexes and reaction time
  • Inability to make good decisions
  • Taking unnecessary risks
  • Poor communication skills
  • Behaving as if on auto-pilot and becoming complacent

Tips to Combat Fatigue

Fatigue is feeling weary, very tired or exhausted. Long periods of stress and anxiety or repetitive tasks can increase fatigue. Here are some tips to combat fatigue and contribute to a safer workplace:

  • Make sleep and rest a priority. Experts say we need at least eight hours of sleep each night.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Make sure that you are eating a variety of proteins, fruits, vegetables and carbs. You should also make sure that you are getting enough vitamins in your diet.
  • Take regularly scheduled breaks. This helps you stay on track and prevents overexertion.
  • Recognize the signs of fatigue, mentioned above. If you notice that it is taking you longer to perform a task or that you can’t concentrate on the task at hand, take a scheduled break or talk to your supervisor.
  • Varying tasks can keep your mind stimulated. When possible, vary your work tasks so that you can stay alert. This is especially crucial if you work at a job with repetitive tasks.
  • Exercise! Stretching and getting the blood flowing is good for your energy level.
  • Keep hydrated. Make sure you drink plenty of water.
  • Look out for your co-workers. If you notice symptoms of fatigue in others, talk to them about taking their break or let a supervisor know.

Working when fatigued is dangerous for you and your coworkers. Listen to your body and learn how to avoid fatigue. You will not only prevent an incident, but create a more positive work environment. For more information and resources on fatigue, visit the National Safety Council website.