It's never a good idea for people to do even basic tasks in their everyday lives when they're heavily fatigued. This can increase risks around all kinds of things, such as driving, exercising and, of course, performing their jobs. Especially in industrial settings like manufacturing facilities, an employee who is even slightly fatigued can put themselves and others in danger.
As such, you need to understand all these potential hazards and the ways they can affect both your workers and operations. The following are just some of the things you'll need to consider:
1) There are plenty of warning signs
Worker fatigue presents in a number of different ways (often simultaneously), according to Intelex. These include simply looking and feeling tired, lack of focus, headaches, irritability and more. Teach everyone the warning signs and you'll spot fatigue before it's a problem.
2) It can be a drag on performance
As mentioned, lack of focus is a classic symptom of fatigue, and especially if it's a common issue under your roof, it can hold you and your workers back, Intelex advised. Think of all the lost operational efficiency if even two or three of your employees are working at 75% capacity.
3) It's something you need to actively monitor
One or two instances of fatigue here and there might not seem like a problem to you, but if you're not taking note of how and when they occur, incidences may slip through the cracks, Intelex noted. Just like other safety issues, you need to keep a log of fatigued workers.
4) There are many root causes
The problem with fatigue among workers is that there's not always a way to combat it, according to OSEA. It could happen because people are going through a trying personal time, medical difficulties, a poor diet and so on. Make sure your working environment is conducive to minimizing this problem, with low humidity, cool temperatures and bright lighting.
5) It's a safety issue
When employees are fatigued, distracted or just not working at 100%, the risk that they will not perform their tasks in the safest way possible necessarily increase, OSEA added. This is just another reason workers need to be aware of the risks.
6) Its long-term effects can't be overstated
When workers are fatigued on an ongoing basis, they may begin to see a number of health issues that put them at even greater risk, OSEA cautioned. These include obesity, heightening stress, depression and more. Those, too, can greatly affect work performance down the road.
7) It's especially prevalent for overnight shifts
If your facility has more than one shift, especially those that happen in the early morning hours, worker fatigue should be an even bigger concern, according to Safety News Alert. As such, those workers should be monitored even more closely for the above warning signs — and rotated off those shifts if need be.
8) You need to educate your workers
Finally, your employees need to know all those warning signs — not only for their coworkers, but for themselves, Safety News Alert warned. Giving them extra flexibility to deal with fatigue if they're personally feeling it will help keep your workers engaged, and your facility running smoothly.