When it comes to hazardous conditions for employees, one of the most dangerous
is also perhaps one of the least controllable by employers. Fatigued or
exhausted employees often have their judgement impaired, reaction times
increased, have difficulty focusing, and many other potentially dangerous
symptoms. While in some cases this can affect work quality, in other situations
it can put both themselves and their co-workers at serious risk for an
injury, particularly when a fatigued worker is required to operate heavy
machinery or use a dangerous tool or substance. As a result, fatigued
workers are a potentially huge risk for employers both personnel-wise
What Causes Fatigue?
Fatigue can be caused by an abundance of different factors. A 2012 study
by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found
that fatigue was predominantly the body’s response to physical or
mental hard work. Occupationally, this includes risks like long hours,
a heavy workload, and lack of sleep. However, environmental factors can
also play a role. High-stress positions or jobs that place an immense
amount of pressure on workers frequently lead to fatigued employees that
are more prone to mistakes. However, even workers without a lot of occupational
stresses could also suffer if their relationships with their coworkers
are strained or poor.
Finally, perhaps the biggest risk factor for fatigue is employees who work
multiple jobs. Our 24-hour society doesn’t stop, and in order to
make ends meet people must sometimes take on additional work. However,
a study performed by David Lombardi from the Center for Injury Epidemiology
at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety found that workers
who had an increased work load, including consecutive shifts at multiple
jobs, were at an immensely greater risk than those who work just a single
shift per day. In fact, night shift workers were 31 percent more likely
to be injured on the job than morning shift workers, and by the fourth
consecutive night, that risk had increased another 36 percent from before. By the 12th hour of work on any given night, that risk nearly doubled.
Managing Employees to Prevent Fatigue
The importance of rest for employees cannot be understated. The National
Health Interview Survey found that nearly 7.8 workers out of every 100
who slept five hours per day or less are injured every year, compared
to just under 2.3 of every 100 workers who slept between seven and eight
hours per night. As an employer, how can you encourage your employees
to get the rest they need and keep your workplace safe for everyone?
The easiest way to do so is to create a manageable workload for each employee
and not overwork staff to the point where they are exhausted after just
a few days. While labor can be expensive, adding an extra set of hands
could wind up being what makes an unmanageable and exhausting workload
suddenly become enjoyable and balanced for your workers. In turn, the
extra labor cost could drastically outweigh the effects on your employees,
and even lead to a significant boost in morale, a major benefit from a
human resources standpoint.
Scheduling shifts appropriately can also help immensely when it comes to
fighting fatigue. If your business has employees work in multiple shifts,
scheduling employees so their start times are mostly consistent as well
as giving them an appropriate amount of time to adapt between an evening
and morning shift (or vice versa) can significantly decrease employee fatigue.
You should also make sure to keep an eye on your workers and train management
staff to notice signs of employee fatigue in order to effectively combat
it before it can cause a serious issue. This includes training all employees
on the dangerous consequences fatigue can have and encouraging them to
do everything they can to seek help from supervisors when they are not
receiving adequate rest. When nearly 40% of all workers in the United
States sleep less than seven hours per night, this could go a long way
to reducing injuries and devastating accidents.
Have you been injured as a result of an incident caused by worker fatigue?
Retain the help of an Albequerque workers’ compensation lawyer as
soon as possible! Call Michael J. Doyle, Attorney at Law today and put
more than 10 years of trial-tested experience on your side. Contact us
today by dialing 505-219-2176 and request a
free case evaluation.