Immediately after an emergency, most people want to rally together and help, but it’s important to watch out for fatigue of your workers. Fatigue can reduce a person’s ability to perform work safely and effectively, risking their own health and the safety of others.
This applies to both workers, and volunteer workers.
Ways to reduce the risk of fatigue at work
How to reduce the risk of fatigue:
- Look at when and for how long your workers work, what kinds of jobs they carry out, and what the working conditions are like.
- Remind workers that they can be mentally as well as physically fatigued. Mental fatigue can make it difficult for workers to maintain attention on tasks, they become distractable, frustrated, and this lack of attention makes them more vulnerable to harm.
- Think about how workers will get to and from work, especially if they are working long or irregular hours. Give them different transport options other than driving if possible.
- Find out what your workers already know about the risk of fatigue, including what it looks like in themselves and others, why it happens and how they can stop it from happening to them.
- Have an open and safe culture at your work. Workers need to feel comfortable talking to you about fatigue without worrying about getting in trouble.
- Make sure workers have enough breaks, and don’t skip them. Look at what healthy food and drink options are available at your work.
- Have a system in place that workers can use to report to you if they feel fatigued, or if something goes wrong at work because of fatigue.
- When making your rosters, think about people’s natural sleeping patterns. Try to avoid very early or very late starts, and design shifts so they are rotating forward.
- Check in with your workers regularly to find out if they are feeling fatigued, and if anything needs to change to further reduce the risk of fatigue in your workplace.
- Make sure workers are not swapping shifts with each other too often, or spending too much time on-call.
- Use the information you collect from your workers to inform your thinking on how you manage fatigue at your workplace.
- Vary the jobs a worker does. People can become mentally and physically fatigued if they are required to repeat the same task for long periods of time.
- Review your rosters and schedules from time to time, to make sure they are still appropriate for your workers.
- Have a healthy physical working environment. Make sure workers have clean drinking water, provide rest break areas for all weather conditions, and make sure workers don’t become too hot or too cold.
- Recognise that your workers may also be ‘working’ long hours to get their home-life back to normal. Placing excessive expectations on them may set-up conflict between work-home.
See our resources on fatigue