What is Fatigue?
- Fatigue is more than feeling tired and drowsy. In a work context, fatigue is a state of mental and/or physical exhaustion which reduces a person’s ability to perform work safely and effectively.
- It can occur because of prolonged mental or physical activity, sleep loss and/or disruption of the internal body clock.
- Fatigue can be caused by factors which may be work related, non-work related or a combination of both and can accumulate over time.
Why is fatigue a problem?
Fatigue can adversely affect safety at the workplace. Fatigue reduces alertness which may lead to errors and an increase in incidents and injuries, particularly when:
- operating fixed or mobile plant, including driving vehicles
- undertaking critical tasks that require a high level of concentration
- undertaking night or shift work when a person would ordinarily be sleeping.
The effects of fatigue can be short or long term. In the short term a person may show the signs or report the symptoms of fatigue outlined in “How can you tell if someone is fatigued?“.
The longer term health effects of fatigue can include:
- heart disease
- high blood pressure
- gastrointestinal disorders
- lower fertility