Did you know that according to a 2018 survey report by the National Safety Council (NSC), two-thirds of the US labor force experiences workplace fatigue? This means that almost 107 million out of the 160 million US workers are affected by occupational fatigue.
Of those workers who suffer from fatigue, at least 43 percent claim they are so fatigued that concentrating and focusing on work-related tasks is difficult throughout the work week.
Obviously, workers who are unable to properly focus on their job tasks will drive down productivity levels at your business. And lower productivity levels inevitably lead to lower sales, revenue, and profit margins. Furthermore, workers who are severely fatigued are also at a heightened risk for workplace accidents and injuries, which can cost business owners further money via workers compensation payments and time away from work.
Fatigue management in the workplace is thus an important, though often overlooked, element in human resource supervision. Below, we briefly outline the effects of fatigue in the workplace and then offer our top three tips for managing stress and fatigue in the workplace.
Effects of Fatigue in the Workplace
As we mentioned above, worker fatigue can obviously lead to difficulty concentrating and low rates of worker engagement. When workers are chronically fatigued, productivity levels will plummet and the quality of the work will also suffer. According to the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, worker fatigue can lead to “slowed reaction time, reduced vigilance, reduced decision-making ability, poor judgment, distraction during complex tasks, and loss of awareness in critical situations.”
If your workplace environment has dangerous machinery or other obvious worker hazards, fatigued workers will be at a heightened risk for serious accidents, injuries, or worse. Even if you follow all relevant OSHA guidelines and protocols for your line of industry, a fatigued worker may put himself or herself (and others) at risk.
Three Tips for Managing Fatigue in the Workplace
As one recent academic study finds:
“...fatigue is the end result of integration of multiple factors such as time awake, time of day, and
workload. Then, the full understanding of circadian biological clocks, dynamics of transient and
cumulative sleep loss, and recovery is required for effective management of workplace fatigue.”
Given these multiple factors that lead to chronic worker fatigue, some strategies for helping to manage or avoid worker fatigue include:
Introduce Occupational Sleep Medicine
This specialized occupational medicine field applies the science of sleep, the tactics, techniques, and procedures of sleep and performance measurement in the operational environment; and the clinical practice of sleep medicine to reduce the risks of poor performance and vulnerabilities to work-related accidents. Occupational sleep medicine can be specifically helpful if you have workers who work long or irregular hours and need help finding ways to develop healthy sleep patterns. Consider referring these employees to these specialists, or hosting a lunch-and-learn or seminar.
Manage Environmental Factors That Cause Workplace Fatigue
Certain environmental factors can also increment the negative effects of worker fatigue. Repetitive, loud noise, inadequate lighting, high heat and humidity, machine vibrations, and other environmental factors can all contribute to worker fatigue. Managing these factors for maximum comfort and relief can also keep workers more alert.
Schedule Shifts to Avoid Long-Term Accumulation of Fatigue
If certain workers consistently work long, irregular hours, worker fatigue can accumulate over time. The negative effects of sleep loss can potentially cause increasing drowsiness and performance impairment as the workweek progresses. One way to help eliminate this problem is through allowing workers extended time off after one or two long shifts that may have caused them excess fatigue.
Rest Easy With Work-Fit
If your company hires employees whose irregular work schedules put them at higher vulnerability for long-term worker fatigue, consider implementing some of the above-mentioned policies to reduce worker fatigue levels. Need help? Bring in the professionals to develop and implement the best strategies for managing worker fatigue.
Work-Fit is a leader in implementing onsite and telehealth injury prevention and wellness management programs for your workforce. Our wellness management program is a great resource that can help your employees develop sleeping habits and lifestyle adjustments to avoid long-term health problems associated with worker fatigue. Contact Work-Fit today to see how we can help your company better deal with worker fatigue.