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Managing fatigue in the workplace

Many workers in Georgia are overtired, and this is negatively affecting their impact on the job. Not only does fatigue decrease productivity but it also increases safety risks, especially in certain industries. Employers are seeing the financial impact of fatigue and are trying to manage it to improve safety and their bottom line.

According to the National Safety Council, the industries that are the most impacted from employee fatigue include transportation, construction, utilities and manufacturing. These safety-sensitive jobs require concentration, quick reaction time, cognitive ability and mental alertness, and errors can result in serious injury and even death. Unfortunately, not all employees see the risks associated with fatigue. Employers, however, see a direct association with productivity and safety. Because of this, more employers are beginning to utilize techniques to decrease fatigue on the job.

The US National Library of Medicine discusses that worker fatigue costs the United States around $18 billion a year and recommends some management methods employers can incorporate into their day-to-day operations. One is to allow employees to take a nap during night shifts. To be most effective, naps should last between 90 and 120 minutes, but even 30 minutes can improve performance and alertness upon waking. Other methods include:

  • Adapt circadian rhythm - bright light exposure and melatonin administration can promote alertness during night shifts
  • Promote proper sleeping habits - encourage improved sleep while at home through specific strategies
  • Stimulators - these should be used only as a temporary solution, but can include caffeine, physical activity, social interactions and pharmacological stimulants such as amphetamines



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