What is Fatigue?

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  • 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
  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • gastrointestinal disorders
  • lower fertility
  • anxiety
  • depression. 
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