Increases in productivity demands for New Zealand businesses and a shortage of skilled staff can often mean longer hours for those already working in your businesses, or missed business opportunities. In some cases, these time demands are unavoidable, however the result can be an steady incline in worker fatigue. This can sometimes take the form of an increased error rate and rework, more employees taking sick days, and occasionally it can go undetected until a major incident occurs. For these reasons, fatigue in the workplace is classified as a hazard.
The effective management of fatigue should be part of any good Health and Safety plan. The constant pressure of time adds to the challenge of keeping your staff happy at work.
How do you combat fatigue in the workplace?
A relevant fatigue management plan or policy provides the framework in which to implement procedures for the successful monitoring and adjustment of work roles and shift rosters, to best fit the workers.
WorksafeNZ has outlined some specific areas where businesses can focus to minimise the effects of workplace fatigue:
Work schedules – making sure regular and quality rest breaks are occuring at regular intervals, overtime is monitored and critical or hazardous tasks are scheduled at appropriate times in a work shift.
Work environment – ensure that extremes in temperature are minimised and your staff have adequate facilities for rest breaks and encourage a positive work environment where good relationships exist and workers are encouraged and supported. Provide good supervision.
Physical and excessive work demands – Limit periods of excessive mental or physical demands (ie through job rotation).
Training and education – ensure that your staff have the knowledge and training to be able to take responsibility for their own well-being.
How do I find out more about Health and Safety and Fatigue?
Good fatigue management can reduce the effects of this type of hazard in the workplace, for you and your staff. Workers that are managing their workload well, and are encouraged to look after their well-being, are generally more positive and productive in the workplace. This has an overall positive effect on the business.
If you would like to read more about this topic and how it relates to you, WorksafeNZ has a quick guide available which can be a very useful start.
To delve a little deeper and fully realise the benefits of active management of workplace fatigue, a good Health and Safety consultant can personally assist you with meaningful and relevant steps to reduce and even eliminate the risks you would otherwise face.