How You Can Reduce The Risk Of Worker Fatigue

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Posted on 10th May, 2017 | By Ben Earnshaw

This week sees our latest entry in our coverage on how tiredness affects people in the workplace. Last week, we discussed how tiredness affects employees, and its impacts on their potential health. This time around we’re going to talk about the direct impacts it has on the safety of your workplace, and we’ll also be looking at what you can do to minimise the risks

Why Does Fatigue Pose A Danger For Your Workplace?

 injured employee

All evidence and statistics point to the fact that worker fatigue poses a very real and present threat to workplaces all over the UK. The number of accidents and injuries has frequently been found to be demonstrably higher on night shifts, for example. This has also been found to be the case during successive shifts or during particularly long ones, where workers are given overly-limited time for breaks.

On this note, the evidence encompasses more than just statistics. Some of the most deadly or catastrophic disasters in recent human history have all been proven to have worker fatigue as a factor in their occurrence. As we covered in detail last week, over tiredness can cause confusion, slow reactions and slips of memory that can have devastating consequences.

Chernobyl and the American Exxon Valdez disasters are two such high-profile examples, as both occurred at night. Over here in the UK, the Clapham Junction Rail Crash – which killed 35 people – was caused by an employee who was found to have been working seven day weeks. He had been doing this for several consecutive months leading up to the crash.

Employees don’t necessarily have to be in positions of responsibility to harm themselves or others, however. Working with fast-moving machinery is an obvious hazard, but employees can also harm themselves even in a relatively innocuous environment like the average office. For example, a simple mistake like misjudging a stair – or failing to notice a low obstacle – can lead to falls and potentially serious injuries.

What Can You Do To Mitigate Worker Fatigue?

health and safety

While employees must take responsibility for their own sleeping patterns to a certain extent, it is also up to the employer to make sure that they’re getting sufficient opportunity for rest. The Working Time Regulations come into play here, but simply adhering to them doesn’t necessarily guarantee the elimination of worker fatigue.

Amongst the main measures that you as an employer can take include:

  1. Develop a policy that specifically aims to guarantee workers get sufficient breaks and time between shifts.

If you do indeed formulate a policy, it’s up to you to ensure it’s stringently enforced. It’s not uncommon for such policies to fall by the wayside after a short time, rendering moot all the work that went into their formulation.

  1. Keep track of all working hours using extensive and comprehensive records

This includes overtime, shift swapping and on-call work. High levels of these might be indicators that your business is understaffed.

Monitor all aspects of the shifts themselves

supervising workers

This includes the nature of the work, the level of workload, shift duration and number and length of breaks. All should be strictly regulated in order to reliably minimise over tiredness at work.

Ultimately, effective management and optimised workloads both have crucial parts to play in preventing the dangers posed by worker fatigue – both to the business, and to the employees themselves.

At Browns, we’re also experts in safeguarding other aspects of your employees’ physical health. We offer several first aid courses of varying length and intensity, depending on whether you need a full education on the discipline or just a quick refresher. You can book one using the link above, or alternatively you can contact us on 01282 615517. At Browns, your safety is our priority!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter: @brownssafety

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