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A bit of drowsiness might not seem like a big deal - until you realize that worker fatigue costs roughly $18 billion per year in the U.S. Those jaw-cracking yawns add up to poorer judgment, poor concentration, issues with memory and information processing, and reaction time.
And if you’re in a hospital or a construction site, even minor processing delays can have life-threatening consequences.
Time to take the next step in crafting a safe working environment for your employees. Here are three tips any workplace can use to foster improved workplace fatigue management–and deliver better results.
Almost 15 million Americans work full-time on evening, night, or rotating shifts, and most Americans work more than 40 hours a week. It’s no trade secret that shift work has disastrous consequences on your health, from cardiovascular disease to depression to stomach ulcers.
Of all the effects of shift work, fatigue is the most insidious. Because shift work disrupts the synchronicity between your internal clock and the environment, shift workers may feel fatigued even if they got a decent night’s sleep.
This makes shift scheduling and rostering one of the most important tools in your arsenal for effective workplace fatigue management.
No one schedule works for everyone. A good approach is to provide workers with choice and flexibility–let the night owls take the night shifts and the early birds take the morning shifts, allowing them to work when they’re naturally at their most productive.
Also, try to think about the life of the person, not just putting a body on shift. Try to build regular weekends (or weekend-equivalent two-day blocks) with as much consistency as possible.
If your workplace does not value rest, your workers won’t either. That’s why policies–actual, written policies directly addressing workplace fatigue management–are your next step to tackle fatigue.
The goal of these policies is to give workers enough rest to avoid stress and burnout. One of the easiest is a napping policy (yes, really). Set a quiet break room aside with cozy couches and chairs and help workers embrace the joy of a power nap.
Even if you don’t relocate the office coffee machine, mandatory rest breaks are a good idea, especially for workers in long shifts or physically demanding jobs.
Last but not least, give your employees the tools to reinforce workplace fatigue management at home. The way to do this is through education and making fatigue management a regular part of your mandatory safety training.
To do this, you should educate employees on the importance of healthy life habits to reinforce good sleep and what they can do at home to support restful sleep. You should also train employees to recognize the signs of a fatigued colleague and what to do to help their colleague out.
Just make sure to structure work days in such a way that you reinforce healthy sleep habits at home. Otherwise, employees see hypocrisy, and they tune out immediately.
Fatigue doesn’t have to haunt your stress nightmares. If you structure your safety program right, workplace fatigue management is just one more tool to reinforce a healthy workforce.
But first, you need the right tools for the job. That’s where our safety management software can help, with an easy-to-use dashboard and data transparency so that you always have the information you need to make the right call.
Sound good? Then let’s invest in a safer workplace. Get in touch to learn more about how our software can help.
Since 2009, the team at EHS Insight have been on a mission to make the world a better place. Join us by subscribing to our Blog and receive updates on what’s new in the world of EHS, our software and other related topics.
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