Fatigue is not ordinary tiredness but is a mental or physical exhaustion which can overwhelm a person when they have reached their mental or physical limits. Fatigue can be caused by work or non-work activity and can prevent people from functioning normally and affect safety in the workplace.
DOB is committed to providing a safe working environment and adopting safe working practices to support our workers, including shift workers and those who work extended hours. DOB understands that shift work can play a part in the development of fatigue and recognises its responsibility to its workers.
Common causes of fatigue:
- Excessive family responsibilities
- Social activities (e.g. going out or misuse of alcohol or drugs)
- Health issues (e.g. sleep disorders, illness)
- Study or sporting obligations
- Shift work (especially night shifts)
- Working long hours or more than one job
Common symptoms of fatigue:
- Decreased concentration and co-ordination
- Compromised judgement
- Slower reaction time
- In extreme situations, fatigue increases the possibility of incidents and injuries
DOB management attempts to prevent, identify & manage fatigue in the workplace by:
- Promoting awareness about fatigue to workers
- Having systems in place to reduce the chance of fatigue in the workplace (e.g. reasonable shift lengths, monitoring overtime, ensuring that workers take adequate breaks, taking at least 10 hours between shifts etc), breaks to be taken after 5 hours but before the 6th hour, and after 9.5 hours for no less than 30 minutes at a time.
- Monitoring workloads to ensure that expectations are realistic and not beyond worker capabilities
- Driving a company vehicle is classed as working for all time driving and subject to the same conditions. Regular breaks have to be taken in two hour intervals of no less than 15 minutes at a time.
- Having an ‘open door’ policy where workers are able to share their concerns
- Ensuring that workers are able to perform their work
- Discussing possible symptoms displayed with workers, allowing them to raise concerns
Workers have a responsibility to:
- Inform a member of DOB management if they feel they may be experiencing fatigue
- Not attend work under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Under no circumstances operate a company vehicle whilst experiencing fatigue or whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Use their time away from work to rest for an appropriate length of time
- Avoid behaviour which may cause fatigue problems (e.g. over work, short periods between shifts, etc.)
- Recognise their own limits and reassess their health of commitments as necessary to avoid fatigue
- Take responsibility for managing their fatigue & symptoms
- Participate in random drug & alcohol testing as required
- Ensure that they take the proper break according to the length of their shifts
- Advise DOB management if they are unfit or unable to perform their duties
- Advise DOB management immediately if there is a possibility that fatigue could impact their ability to work safely
- Alert DOB to any member of staff whom they feel may be suffering with fatigue
- Workers encouraged to take responsibility for being fit for their shift
DOB management has a responsibility to ensure that fatigue does not impact on the health & safety of themselves or others.