Fatigue management is part of the OH&S responsibilities of all organisations in Australia, as governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. Even if the primary cause of fatigue is outside of the employees organisational role the organisation can still be responsible for managing the fatigue and safety of its employees. Fatigue is more than just feeling tired, it is the mental and physical exhaustion that reduces the ability to perform work safely and effectively.
Fatigue doesn’t just impact the team member it can also impact on the health and safety of those around them. Fatigue can result in a lack of alertness, slower reaction time and make even a well trained and competent team member prone to mistakes.
Fatigue is managed by creating control measures which look at each role, the roster and any non work related factors that may affect the employees. Each organisation will use control measures unique to them however it is always important to engage the whole team when assessing risk including fatigue.
Individuals can also take an active role in fatigue management by monitoring their own symptoms, drinking plenty of water, taking breaks avoiding large quantities of sugar or caffeine and most importantly reporting any risks of fatigue as soon as you are aware of them. Early reporting and quick action can help minimise possible impacts.
Oliver works construction as an apprenticeship and to supplement his income has recently started a new role working part time in the evenings. Oliver has not told his current employer about this new job for fear about being perceived as unloyal. Working both roles at the same time has left Oliver regularly short on sleep and disrupting his regular sleeping patterns. This affects his sleep cycle both on the nights he works at the second job and his off nights and weekends too. As a result he is now regularly fatigued at work and has started to make mistakes leading to a performance discussion with his managers at both roles.
Oliver needs to discuss his situation honestly giving reasons for taking the second role with his workplace and discuss ways to meet these safely as soon as possible as the current situation places both him and his coworkers at risk