Manage workplace fatigue, urges NZ safety agency

WorkSafe New Zealand reminds businesses and workers to keep fatigue out of the workplace.

“Lots of jobs rely on workers being physically and mentally alert to keep them and others safe,” said WorkSafe’s Acting Deputy General Manager Investigations and Technical Services, Simon Humphries.

“Fatigue is more than being tired – it’s physical and/or mental exhaustion, to the extent people are no longer effective or safe at work.”

Fatigue can reduce one’s ability and alertness to work safely and effectively. It can also affect people’s wellbeing, impact productivity and lead to workplace incidents.

The safety agency provided the following tips for businesses to manage risks around fatigue in the workplace:

  • Eliminate the risk if you can reasonably do so through having good work schedules, working hours and rosters, monitoring overtime, limiting periods of excessive mental or physical demands.
  • Involve your workers when identifying and working out how to manage work risks as they have useful operational knowledge
  • Make sure workers know they can make suggestions, ask questions or raise concerns
  • Monitor and review how work could be managed to minimise fatigue risks – such as having better processes, workflows and workstation conditions
  • Ensure workers know the signs and symptoms of fatigue so they know what to look out for
  • If you can’t eliminate the risk, work out how to keep fatigue risk to a minimum such as developing a fatigue policy for managers and workers, having a reporting system workers can use when fatigued or there is a fatigue-related incident, and use the information to improve your fatigue risk management

The following tips for workers to manage fatigue risks are:

  • Keep hydrated at work, take your breaks and before agreeing to working overtime think about whether it could impact your health and safety. Ask for a variety of work if you regularly do repetitive tasks
  • Let your manager know if you’re too tired to work safely, or to safely travel to or from work
  • At home, aim to get seven to nine hours of good quality sleep and make sure you have time to relax on days off.

A fatigue quick guide for businesses and workers is available here.

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