Fatigue can be identified as ‘level above’ being tired. It is a level of exhaustion, both mental and physical, that hampers a persons ability to function. This becomes a major health and safety risk, especially in dangerous workplaces such as mine sites.
Fatigue can appear over any length of time and can be identified in several ways. Workers may seem to be forgetful with reduced response time, have decision making impairments, be less aware of their surroundings and more.
Fatigue can and will cause accidents (some causing damage and injury or in some cases, could be fatal) if not identified and treated. It can affect worker safety, productivity and morale. Long periods of shift work, hard / fast moving work, physical activity and / or mental activity and issues with sleep are all contributing factors to fatigue.
Some tips for helping combat fatigue in the workplace include:
- Management implementing risk assessments to develop a fatigue management plan
- Reducing physical demands, repetition or stress on workers
- Ensuring work environments are temperature controlled. Eg. Air conditioned in the heat, heated in cold weather.
- Appropriate shift lengths and rostering systems to ensure time off for proper rest. Work hour guidelines can be found here.
- And ensuring appropriate breaks are scheduled and taken
There is so much more that can be done to help reduce fatigue in the mining workplace. Risk assessments are a really great way to start to get a management plan in place, and help reduce risk for the entire site.