Identifying Fatigue

In general, fatigue means feeling tired or sleepy to a point where you may experience loss of memory, increased errors, poor judgment, issues with attention and communication, or increased stress. It can be acute or chronic. Lack of sleep or short-term heavy mental or physical work can cause acute fatigue. This can be relieved by simply resting or relaxing. Chronic feeling is constant, though the exact cause is unknown. Some of the symptoms include difficulty concentrating, unusual headaches, joint pain, inability to recall details, excessive daytime sleeping, and more. It can be caused by some health conditions or it can be genetic. At the work place, fatigue can have a major impact on work performance safety, productivity, and efficiency. Fatigue increases the risk for injuries or other accidents. According to OSHA, long work hours and workers fatigue is a safety concern particularly for medical residents and other similar types of work. Workplaces can help employees by providing a fatigue risk management system to protect both employees and work efficiency.

Symptoms of Fatigue:

  • Lack of energy.
  • Lack of productivity at work.
  • Weight loss.
  • Chest pain.
  • Muscle weakness or pain.
  • Anxiety and depression.
  • Lack of appetite.
  • Issues concentrating.

Fatigue can be Caused or Increased by:

  • High noise and high temperature.
  • Dim lighting.
  • Limited visibility (weather).
  • Long, difficult, or boring work tasks.
  • Nighttime work.
  • Poor eating habits.
  • Lack of sleep.

Workplace can Reduce the Risk of Fatigue by:

  • Providing good lighting.
  • Maintaining comfortable temperatures.
  • Changing tasks throughout each shift.
  • Controlling noise levels.
  • Providing facilities where employees can take a nap, if needed.
  • Promoting safety through training, education, and communication.
  • Performing risk assessments and near miss/incident investigations.
  • Providing an “hours of service” guide.