Fatigue is the state of feeling very tired, weary or sleepy resulting from insufficient sleep, prolonged mental or physical work. Boring or repetitive tasks can intensify feelings of fatigue.
The Health and Safety at Work Act (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016 impose duties on PCBUs – employers and the like; in relation to the management of risks to health and safety.
Not only does it present a risk to individuals, but may also affect organisations through:
Fatigue is such that a may be considered a form or impairment, which presents a risk and as such must be managed effectively.
People responsible for planning work routines, particularly for shift workers, must ensure that workers are not exposed to unnecessarily long shifts.
They must be proactive in the management of fatigue by abiding by the following precautions and expectations:
There are many, many causes of fatigue.
Work-related factors may include long work hours, long hours of physical or mental activity, insufficient break time between shifts, changes to jobs or shift rotations, inadequate rest, excessive stress, having multiple jobs, or a combination of these factors.
Changes to home environments can also impact sleep such as a new baby, change in patterns and routines, new or changing caregiver roles.
Sometimes, a sleep disorder may cause fatigue. People suspected of having a sleep disorder should be encouraged to consult with a doctor or health professional for more information.
Research has shown that the number of hours awake can be similar to blood alcohol levels. One study reports the following:
Signs and symptoms of fatigue may include:
The effects of fatigue include:
Fatigue can be described as either acute or chronic.
Acute fatigue results from short-term sleep loss or from short periods of heavy physical or mental work. The effects of acute fatigue are of short duration and can be reversed by sleep and relaxation.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is the constant severe state of tiredness that is not relieved by rest. The symptoms of chronic fatigue are flu-like, in that they may last longer than six months and may interfere with certain activities.
Research reports that most incidents occur when people are more likely to want sleep - between midnight and 6 am, and between 1 to 3 pm.
There is no one way to get a good sleep - what works for one person may not work for another. In general, suggestions include:
It varies, but on average studies say we need at least 7 to 9 hours every day.
Studies have reported that most night workers get about 5 to 7 hours less sleep per week than the day shift. (You can accumulate a sleep "debt", but not a surplus.)
Humans follow an "internal" or "biological clock" cycle of sleep, wakefulness, and alertness.
Although these circadian rhythms are influenced by external clues such as the sun setting and rising, it is the brain that sets your pattern. Most cycles are 23-25 hours long and there are natural dips or periods when you feel tired or less alert - even for those who are well-rested.