A worker's guide to fatigue management
What is fatigue?
Fatigue is described by Safe Work Australia as feeling more than tired or drowsy. “It is a mental state and/or physical exhaustion that reduces a person’s ability to perform work safely and effectively”. There are multiple causes including:
• prolonged or intense mental or physical activity
• sleep loss or disruption of your internal body clock
• long shifts
• short recovery times between shifts
• strenuous jobs
• long commuting times
• poor sleep
• family demands
The danger of fatigue
Fatigue can increase the risks of incidents mainly caused by a lack of awareness and slower reaction times. Fatigue can therefore reduce a worker’s ability to perform work duties. Fatigue can become a risk when:
• operating fixed or mobile plant including driving vehicles
• undertaking critical tasks that require a high level of concentration
• undertaking night or shift work when a person would ordinarily be sleeping
How does fatigue affect Australians?
A recent study of 1500 Australians by Hillman and Lack (2013) has shown that a large proportion of the population is suffering from poor sleep/ or fatigue symptoms. As a matter of fact, one in four Australians (23.7%) regularly do not obtain adequate sleep. 23.5% experience fatigue or exhaustion several times per week. Furthermore, daytime sleepiness was most noticeable in the 18-24 years age group (26.2%), while a common symptom of insomnia (waking up a lot during the night) was most prevalent in the 35-49 years age group (42.6%). The study shows that sleeping difficulties arise across all age groups and genders within Australia.
How much sleep do you need?
Sleep is essential for both physical and mental wellbeing, and you need to get enough regularly to perform at your best. The National Health Foundation in the US estimates that most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. The numbers vary
depending on the individual.
Over the years, the amount of sleep a person obtains in average has decreased significantly through history. In 1900, the average sleep length was 9 hours. After light bulbs became available, this number decreased to 8 hours. Nowadays, it is an average of 7 hours. Many believe it is due to the rise of internet and social networking. Despite our average sleep hours decreasing, it doesn’t mean that we have adapted to need less sleep. Simply put, we are becoming more and more sleep deprived.
How to improve your sleep?
• Allocate enough time to being in bed for sleep. Remember most adults need 7 - 9 hours of sleep each night.
• Go to bed when you feel the “sleep wave”. Usually after 9 pm. This increases the chances of getting to sleep easily.
• Develop a sleep routine. Doing the same things before going to bed each night within 20 - 30 min of your bed time will help your brain to understand when it is time to go to sleep.
• Avoid caffeine or nicotine before going to bed. It can reduce the amount of time spent in deep sleep.
• Exercise and sleep. Vigorous exercise in the morning is one of the few things you can do to improve the amount of deep sleep.
• Avoid exercising too close from your bed time (at least 2 - 3 hours before).
• Get your bedroom conditions right. Ensure you have a comfortable pillow and mattress and control the temperature room between 18 - 22 degrees Celsius. • Avoid sunlight by ensuring you have thick curtains or roller shutters. If noise is causing you poor sleep, you can use soundproofing, keep pets outside the room or get your partner assessed if your partner snores.
• Avoid sleep medications. Many are limited in their usefulness and can lead to long term dependency.
Congratulations Sean Meuleman !
Sean was the first to provide us with the correct answer to last month’s quiz question - "Why is it important to prehydrate?“.
Thank you for your participation Sean, we hope you enjoy your prize!
Please answer the following question for your chance to win a $50.00 Coles/Myer Voucher! Text your answer to 0429 306 540 with your full name and State to be in the running to win.
How much sleep do most adults need?
Employee of the Month
Congratulations Thiago Padua for being our employee of the month! Thank you for your hard work and dedication!
Partnership with Mates In Construction
We are proud to be engaging with Mates in Construction in 2019.
MIC is a charity established in 2008 to reduce the high level of suicide among Australian construction workers. The MATES in Construction program is based on the simple idea that “suicide is everyone’s business” and that if the building and construction industry in Australia is to improve the mental health and wellbeing of workers and to reduce suicide, it cannot be left to the mental health professionals, but rather everyone in the industry must play their part.
MIC can be found in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia.
MIC provide suicide prevention through community development programs on sites and support workers in need through case management and a 24/7 help line. Together with the Oz-Help Foundation, they also provide Life Skills Toolbox training to apprentices and young workers.
National helpline: 1300 642 111