Since the emergence of COVID-19, workplace fatigue has gotten a lot more interest. Whereas businesses have long been concerned about workplace fatigue and have recognized it as a risk with potentially serious consequences, the pandemic is bringing attention to the rise in fatigue-related working conditions. Restructuring, shift compressions, longer working hours, and higher demands are lowering sleep hours and quality, as well as increasing physical and mental fatigue. Employees are at risk of emotional burnout, physical injuries, and impaired concentration, all of which may result in workplace accidents.

What is Workplace Fatigue and How Does It Affect You?

Workplace fatigue is characterized as a decline in the ability to perform mental or physical work as a result of insufficient sleep, circadian disruption, or time spent on tasks.

It’s critical to distinguish between fatigue and tiredness when dealing with workplace fatigue. People who suffer from extreme daytime sleepiness are more likely to doze off in a waiting room, a meeting, or in their car. In these cases, people who suffer from fatigue are unlikely to fall asleep. They do, however, find it difficult to go about their daily routines. They may feel tired, weak, and unmotivated, have memory and productivity problems, be uninterested in social situations, and have depressive thoughts.

Hazard Detection Is Affected by Mental Fatigue

Another study released in 2019 found that when construction workers operating heavy mobile equipment are mentally exhausted, their hazard detection skills deteriorate. According to the study, the less likely an operator is to look in their rearview mirror or around them, the more tired they are. After one hour of operation, the operators’ danger miss rate, false alarm rate, and response time have increased by more than 40%. When compared to what they found when they first sat down, their ability to detect risks drops by 30% after just 36 minutes on the machine.

Workers only notice 70% of the risks around them after half an hour of running heavy mobile equipment, according to these findings.

Mental fatigue makes employees hesitant to pay more attention to the “edges” of their direct vision while operating equipment. They begin to look only at what is directly in front of them after 36 minutes.

They don’t look in their rearview mirrors or to the sides of the machine because doing so necessitates more head movements. Operators are hesitant to make the extra effort to scan their entire environment. Operators’ mental fatigue makes it difficult for them to identify potential peripheral hazards quickly.

Workplace fatigue is a serious safety and mental health danger, and employers must address it as part of their WHS responsibilities. One way to do this is to track the hours worked and the time between shifts using a risk management framework. You should also be aware of the behavioral signs of fatigue, which include drowsiness, lack of energy, inability to focus, and a depressed mood.

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