Fatigue is the term used to describe the feeling of weariness from bodily or mental exertion. Fatigue can be defined as feeling tired, drained or exhausted. Fatigue influences an individual’s physical, mental and emotional state. When feeling fatigued, we lose alertness, which is accompanied by poor judgment, slower reactions to events and decreased motor skills.
Fatigue can result from long periods of time awake, strenuous work as well as poor sleep patterns. The time of day that the work is performed can also have an influencing effect.
You are more at risk of being involved in, or causing an accident when driving or working while fatigued.
The correlation between accidents and worker fatigue has been studied and the results have equated 17 hours of wakefulness to 0.05 blood alcohol level and after 24 hours a blood alcohol level of 0.10 (legally impairment in Alberta is 0.08). Findings also showed that compared to alcohol intoxication, the effects of sleep deprivation on the ability to maintain alertness are significantly greater. Based on this type of information and practical experience, it is company policy to limit the hours of work and to maintain awareness of personal factors that could affect the degree of worker fatigue.
The degree to which fatigue impacts personnel depends, to a large extent, on the structure of the shift length and cycle, the nature of the work environment, commuting, sleeping arrangements in the home or at site accommodation and the lifestyle of the individual.
Symptoms of fatigue are both subjective and objective. To assist in the identification of fatigued personnel the following signs and symptoms are recognized as possible indicators:
- Feelings of lethargy and tiredness
- Impaired judgement and thinking
- Delayed reaction times
- Short periods of involuntary sleep (micro sleeps)
- Impaired perceptual capabilities
- Decline in both physical and mental performance
- Reduced alertness
- Bloodshot and droopy eyes
- Loss of motivation
- Uncontrollable yawning and blinking
- Increased absenteeism
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