Fatigued workers are more likely to be injured at work than non-fatigued workers. There is also evidence that workplace fatigue is associated with poorer long-term health outcomes. Fatigue has been associated with several catastrophic accidents such as the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl meltdowns and the Exxon Valdez tanker disaster.
Evidence from WorkSafe’s Workforce Segmentation and Insights Programme (WSIP) suggests that New Zealand workers commonly experience fatigue at work, which is in line with international findings. The WSIP also suggests that fatigue levels are lower among workers aged 50+, although the reasons for this are unknown.
This review summarises the available evidence of the interventions to address workplace fatigue. Expert opinion and some evaluations support the efficacy of six types of interventions to address fatigue. These are: shortening work hours, managing shift and night work, workplace napping and breaks, improving the workplace environment, lowering work demands and increasing worker control and improving workplace safety culture.
There is a consensus in the literature that workplace fatigue cannot be eliminated but can be effectively mitigated and managed. Mitigation and management requires a systematic approach, involving workers, employers and wider industry players.