Contrary to belief, fatigue isn’t just another word for not getting enough sleep. While it’s usually accompanied by feelings of weariness or tiredness, it can make you feel uncomfortable, reduce your capacity to work and lead to slower response times. In industrial environments, this can lead to disastrous consequences.
As an employer in the industrial sector, when should you worry about the effects of fatigue on your employees and what can you do to combat the risks associated with fatigue? Find out in this blog.
What is mental fatigue?
Mental fatigue is a complex physiological state that comes in active and passive forms. This means fatigue can either be caused by a prolonged stimulating activity or a prolonged monotonous activity. A good example is the difference between rally driving and motorway driving – rally driving requires constant attention and is highly stimulating, whereas motorway driving requires constant attention but is not very stimulating. Despite the different driving styles, both cause mental fatigue.
Should I worry about fatigue for my employees?
The short answer is: yes, especially in industrial environments. According to OSHA, accidents and injuries rates are 30% greater during night shifts and workers on the job for 12 hours per day show a 37% increased risk of injury. This can be attributed to fatigue and regardless of whether it’s short- or long-term, the effects on health and likelihood of injury are considerable.
During the 1890s, full-time industrial employees worked 100 hours per week. Thankfully, this is a far cry from the current fatigue prevention working hour standards set by governments today to improve worker safety. For example, in the EU, working hours are limited to 48 hours of duty per week, with rest breaks of 11 hours during each 24-hour period and a mandatory day off for every 7 days worked. While this does not apply to armed forces or emergency personnel, these standards massively reduce the amount of workplace fatigue as a whole.
However, it’s crucial to be aware that there are substantial differences in fatigue tolerance and sleep requirements among individuals which can cause some employees to be at a greater risk than others. As we’ve seen from the OSHA statistics, even in this day and age, fatigue can be considered an inevitable consequence of industrial operations – especially when you take into consideration the 24/7 opening hours, inconsistent work schedules, short and variable off-duty periods, lengthy commutes and in some cases, a less than optimum sleep environment.
How to stop employee fatigue at work?
Physiological data capture is a tried and tested means of protecting employees from fatigue. By capturing data on a person’s fatigue levels at work, managers can determine the risk of a person experiencing fatigue before it becomes severe. It will not only positively impact worker health and wellbeing, but it provides the perfect solution for industrial workforces where employees are used to working shifts, long hours or repetitive tasks, such as driving.
At Bodytrak, we protect workers from accidents caused by fatigue with highly accurate in-ear sensors and a cloud-based data-analytics platform, enabling intervention through an incident management dashboard and user alerts. Bodytrak also helps to prevent heat stress and hearing damage and provides a warning if a worker falls, as soon as it happens.
Bodytrak has the power to keep industrial operations across the globe running safely. With live monitoring and interaction, our goal is to ensure entire workforces are safe from incidents while improving productivity and avoiding burnout.