Long days and irregular work schedules have become increasingly common in today’s business world. And during the global pandemic, many in the construction industry have seen disruptions in both how and when they work, leaving even less time to sleep and recharge.
Fatigue can lead to real risks on the job, and even a small disruption in sleep patterns can pose a threat. Research shows that sleep deprivation increases the likelihood of a job site accident by as much as 70 percent. The consequences of being exhausted at work are on par with that of alcohol consumption, resulting in impaired judgment, difficulty concentrating, slower reaction times and poor performance at best. At worst, fatigue can lead to serious injury or fatality. Here are some recommendations from the CDC to help employers prevent worker fatigue from causing a devastating accident:
Learn to spot the signs of fatigue. There are often clear signs of fatigue, such as yawning, difficulty keeping eyes open and inability to concentrate. It’s up to managers to monitor for signs or effects of fatigue on the job.
Create a culture of safety. Make sure your company has clear coordination and communication between management and workers. Does your company have a fatigue risk management or mitigation plan? Such a living document outlines the use of tools, systems, policies and procedures to help identify and reduce fatigue levels to the greatest extent possible. In general, it will empower safety managers to assess the level of danger related to worker fatigue and act accordingly to prevent accidents. Part of creating an effective fatigue risk management plan is making sure that employees are not punished for reporting when they, or their coworkers, are too tired to work safely.
Schedule wisely. Prudent scheduling practices also can help to limit the number of accidents on the job. For example, the number of hours of each shift, the frequency and length of breaks, the time of day of the shift, the frequency of shift rotations and even the number of hours off between shifts can help or hinder occupational safety.