Toolbox Talk: Fatigue on the Job

By Published On: June 7, 2022

Fatigue on the Job

Toolbox Talks, Safety Classes, on the job training, Hazard Analysis, PPE, and every warning sign are very important, but they all require your focus. Being tired on the job is very common, from being a new parent to being overworked. It is important to know when you need a break to avoid creating an incident for yourself or the people around you.

Statistics on Fatigue

  • One Third of Americans sleep less than 7 hours per night
  • 1 in 10 employees are considered “sleep deprived”
  • Workers who sleep less than 6 hours per night, on average cost their employer 6 workdays per year in productivity
  • Nation wide, it is estimated to cost employers $136 Billion per year in lost productivity due to health related incidents due to fatigued employees.

Causes of Fatigue 

  • Lack of sleep – staying up too late scrolling through social or binging shows
  • Partying like you’re still in college. 
  • Balancing the high demands of work and family life
  • Health problems such as sleep apnea, depression, or anxiety 
  • Medications that cause drowsiness

How to Fight It

An ounce of preservation is worth a pound of cure. The best way to beat the tired, is to take care of your body.

  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
    • Get your focus back. Late at night your phone is your worst enemy. Instead of getting lost in the internet, read a hard copy book (you’ll be asleep before you know it)
    • Exercise. Keep in shape to avoid health problems.
  • Eat Right 
    • Avoid sugary foods or caffeine late in the evening that disrupt your sleep. 
    • During the day, eat healthy foods and light lunches. Big unhealthy meals take a lot of energy for your body to digest.
  • Understand the side effects of medications
    • Prescription or Over the Counter medicines have side effects. If it causes drowsiness or warns against operating machinery – Don’t operate machinery!
  • Take a Walk
    • If you are feeling tired because your environment hasn’t changed in 4 hours, get up and take a walk.
  • Be Honest
    • There should be no shame in telling your manager you need a break. If your inability to focus on a task is putting yourself and others at risk, be honest and take a break to recharge.

It is easy to say “get more sleep to avoid being tired” but that is not always possible. A self employed new business owner/operator and a new parent, you might not sleep for weeks (theoretically) You may be in a position where you have to burn the candle from both ends, at a certain point you need to realize you are the hazard and stand down.  As they say on the airplane, you need to help yourself before you can help others.

Here are a few other Toolbox Talks related to this topic: Dangerous Shortcuts, Horseplay on the Job, Ripple Effect of Safety


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