The Dangers of Work-Related Fatigue and How To Prevent It

Posted on: Jan 09, 2015 by: mike

Work-related fatigue is more than just a nuisance; it's a serious hazard that can lead to injury or even death. When a worker is fatigued, he or she will have slower response times, which subsequently places them at risk for injury. Performing an otherwise simple task can prove to be a challenge. Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the dangers of fatigue in the workplace. To learn more about this condition and how to prevent it, keep reading.

Whether you work in a factory, office, on site, or any other environment, chances are you'll experience fatigue at some point or another. Fatigue is described as low physical and/or mental energy levels. It's often characterized by a general sense of tiredness, mood swings, memory impairment, and headaches. As a result of these symptoms, both the worker and those around him or her are often placed at risk for injury.

Some of the causes of work-related fatigue include the following:

  • Lack of sleep.
  • Inadequate time for recovery of torn/injures muscle fibers (24-48 hours minimum).
  • Poor ergonomics
  • Extreme physical exertion.
  • Extreme mention exertion.

The most influential factor in work-related fatigue is sleep (or lack thereof). When a worker doesn't get enough sleep, he or she will wake up feeling fatigued in the morning. So, how much sleep should you get to ward off fatigue and maintain high energy levels throughout the day? It varies from person to person, but most experts say adults should get between 7-8 hours per night. If you sleep for just 6 hours per night, your body will have a deficit of 7-14 hours over the course of a week (1-2 under the recommended limit per day).

Another tip that's helpful in the prevention of fatigue is to avoid stimulants, such as coffee and nicotine. Granted, products containing these ingredients may provide you with an initial boost of energy, but it's short lived and comes with a crash soon after.

It's important to note that fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are two different conditions. The latter, CFS, is a more serious form of fatigue in which the individual experiences long bouts of low energy. According to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CFS is a combination of fatigue accompanied with other symptoms. But unlike “regular” fatigue, sleep and rest does not improve the person's energy levels.