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Fatigue at work

Fatigue at work causes almost 10,000 serious workplace injuries and costs the Australian economy over $5 billion in lost productivity and healthcare costs each year.

Fatigue is more than feeling tired and drowsy – fatigue is a state of mental and/or physical exhaustion that reduces the ability to work safely and effectively. It can happen when someone is overworked, not sleeping well or has had a disruption to their internal body clock.

Signs and symptoms of fatigue 

The effects of fatigue can be short or long term. In the short term, a person may show signs or report symptoms like: 

  • constant yawning or falling asleep at work 
  • short-term memory problems and a hard time concentrating 
  • bad decision-making and judgment 
  • reduced hand-eye coordination or slow reflexes 
  • increase in unplanned absence. 

A fatigued worker may also experience symptoms not obvious to others including: 

  • headaches 
  • difficulty concentrating 
  • blurred vision 
  • a need for extended sleep during days off work. 

Causes of fatigue 

The causes of fatigue can be work-related, personal or both. Fatigue can also be short term or build up over time. Work-related causes of fatigue may include: 

  • prolonged or intense (e.g. mental or physical) tasks or jobs 
  • sleep loss or disruption to your internal body clock 
  • organisational change 
  • work scheduling 
  • not enough time to recover between shifts 
  • long commute times. 

Impacts of fatigue in the workplace 

Fatigue can affect safety and productivity at the workplace. It reduces alertness which may lead to errors and can increase the risk of an incidents or injuries for the fatigued worker and others.  Fatigue can also have long-term effects on workers’ physical and mental health, including: 

  • heart disease 
  • diabetes 
  • high blood pressure 
  • gastrointestinal disorders 
  • anxiety, or 
  • depression. 

“It doesn’t really matter to my business, does it?” 

A recent survey found that the past month 17% of adults have missed work because they were sleepy and 17% have also fallen asleep on the job. In the past 3 months 29% of adults report making errors at work due to sleepiness or sleep problems.

A smart starting point to manage fatigue at work

Safe Work Australia’s “Guide for managing the risk of fatigue at work” provides practical guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking on how to manage fatigue to ensure it does not contribute to health and safety risks in your workplace. 

A smart starting point to manage your people at work 

Whether you’re looking for advice around managing a single individual to get the best out of them, planning your work to minimise fatigue across your team or strategies to attract, recruit and retain the workforce you need, Bare Bones Consulting is here for you. Check out what we can do for you here then give us a call.

  • PO Box 3956,
    Burleigh Town 4220,
    Queensland
  • 07 5576 4693
  • 0401 279 065
  • Bare Bones Consulting

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