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Would You Condone Workers Drinking Vodka Before Work? If Not, Make Fatigue Management a Priority!

I am doing research on Shift Work and Fatigue this week so that I can do some updates on my Workplace Wellness and Safety Workshops.  I think it is pretty vital to keep the info in my workshops very current.


Whenever I dive into the world of fatigue I am strongly reminded just how crucial this topic is.  Accidents are happening due to fatigue.  A lot of accidents are happening.


Many people don’t realize that fatigue is impairment.  Experiencing fatigued is the same as being impaired.  Research shows that the symptoms and effects of fatigue are exactly the same as impairment through other avenues like alcohol.   Many workers are fatigued regularly, especially shift workers.  When I am running a workshop for anyone (shift workers, office workers etc.) and read them the list of fatigue symptoms, at least half of them will say that they have been fatigued in the last week!  This happens every single time I ask.  About a quarter of participants normally say that they are fatigued at that moment!  This isn’t just shift workers, this is office workers as well!  These answers are concerning to me.  This much fatigue within workplaces is both dangerous and terrible for productivity!


What can be done?

There are many things that you can do in a workplace in terms of Fatigue.  Here are a couple ideas:


1.  Create Awareness.  Your workers likely don’t know enough about fatigue and how to deal with it.  Giving them information at meetings, via internal communication strategies or through workshops on the topic can go a long way.  People don’t know what they don’t know.  If you can fill in those gaps you will be dealing with employees better equipped to deal with Fatigue more effectively and positively.


2.  Workplace Procedures and Policy.  If you don’t already have some procedures and policy for fatigue related situations then it is time to do so.  The Government of Canada has some great suggestions on this topic and they have recently released new fatigue management tools.  ( ).  If you do have fatigue related policy and procedures, but issues are still occurring, it may be time to do a refresher on the topic.  I recommend regularly refreshing workers on all your safety policy and procedures.  It can be easy to forget, or ignore, what should be done in a situation.  When it comes to fatigue, workers may also ignore policy because they don’t want to get into trouble or get anyone else in trouble.  It is vital to ensure that reporting fatigue is not punished and an accepted part of your culture.  Accidents will happen if it is not.  Encourage people to report fatigue and follow other procedures.  This could save lives.


I usually get calls to come in and talk about fatigue after an accident or near miss has occurred.  One company called me after a crane operator had fallen asleep and dropped the crane’s load on a tower of scaffolding with workers on it!  Luckily nobody was hurt.  That could have ended very badly.  Don’t wait that long to implement a Fatigue Management Initiative.  Prevention is key.


Wishing you a day with no droopy eyelids.  ;)




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