Fatigue Risk - Your Company's Obligations

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Everyone in the workplace has a work health and safety duty and can help to ensure fatigue does not create a risk to health and safety at work. Fatigue is not only caused by work-related activities – it is affected by all activities carried out when a person is awake.

Table: Health and safety duties in relation to managing the risks of fatigue. 
Person conducting a business or undertaking:

Section 19 of The Act

Has the primary duty to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, workers and other persons are not exposed to health and safety risks arising from the business or undertaking. This includes ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable:

  • provision and maintenance of a work environment without risks to health and safety
  • provision and maintenance of safe systems of work, and
  • monitoring the health of workers and the conditions at the workplace for the purpose of preventing illness or injury of workers arising from the conduct of the business or undertaking.
The duty on the person conducting the business or undertaking is not removed by a worker’s preference for certain shift patterns for social reasons, their willingness to work extra hours or to come to work when fatigued. The person conducting the business or undertaking should adopt risk management strategies to manage the risks of fatigue in these circumstances.


Section 27 of The Act

Officers such as company directors, must exercise due diligence to ensure the business or undertaking complies with its work health and safety duties. This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure the business or undertaking has and uses appropriate resources and processes to manage the risks associated with fatigue.


Section 28 of The Act

Workers must take reasonable care for their own health and safety and must not adversely affect the health and safety of other persons. Workers must also comply with any reasonable instruction and cooperate with any reasonable policy or procedure relating to fatigue at the workplace, such as policies on fitness for work or second jobs.

Workers’ duties in relation to fatigue do not mean they must never work extra hours. However, they should talk to their manager or supervisor to let them know when they are fatigued. They should also avoid working additional hours and undertaking safety critical tasks when they know it is likely they are fatigued.
Source: Safework Australia: Guide for Managing the Risk Of Fatigue At Work November 2013.