January Toolbox Talk – Fatigue

What is fatigue?
SafeWork Australia defines fatigue as “the mental and/or physical exhaustion that reduces your ability to perform your work safely and effectively”.
According to the Sleep Health Foundation of Australia, adults generally require between 7 and 9 hours a night to feel properly refreshed and function at their best the next day. There are always exceptions to this, including the quality of sleep and how each person responds to less/more. It is not recommended however, for an individual to have less than 6 hours sleep, or more than 11 hours in any one given day.
SafeWork Australia reports that causes of fatigue can be work related, personal or a combination of both. They can also be short term or accumulate over time.
What is Sleep Debt? 
Sleep debt is when individuals get less sleep than they need in a day, and they build up their need to sleep. Each extra day without enough sleep increases the debt. It can take several days to recover from a sleep debt. One sleepless night can have similar effects on someone impaired from the use of alcohol.
What are the signs of fatigue?
  • Tiredness even after sleep
  • Reduced hand-eye coordination or slow reflexes
  • Short term memory problems and an inability to concentrate
  • Blurred vision or impaired visual perception
  • A need for extended sleep during days off work
  • How can you become fatigued a work?
  • Prolonged or intense mental or physical activity
  • Sleep loss and/or disruption of your internal body clock
  • Travel
  • Exceptionally hot or cold working environments
  • Work scheduling
  • Excessively long shifts
  • Not enough time to recover between shifts
  • Strenuous jobs
  • Long commuting times
How can you prevent fatigue?
  • Understand your sleep patterns and ensure adequate rest in between your shifts
  • Seek medical advice if you are unable to obtain sufficient sleep for your needs
  • Be aware of your own fitness before starting each shift and monitor your alertness and concentration while you are at work
  • Keep an eye on your work colleagues for signs of fatigue
  • Ensure you follow any site fatigue management policies/procedures 
  • Ensure any medication or other activities including fitness programs do not negatively impact on you being able to undertake your work safe

Always report any concerns you may have regarding managing fatigue to National Workforce.

Helpful links and resources: