Preventing worker fatigue

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In the United States, it is common for workers to spend more than 40 hours a week at work. Also, some workers have irregular schedules, such as rotating, evening, and night shifts, which can result in workers’ fatigue. 

Fatigue may lead to increased levels of stress, bad eating habits, lack of concentration, lack of physical activity, and illness. If a worker is fatigued, the risk of accidents and injuries may increase as well. Accident and injury rates are 18% greater during evening shifts and 30% greater during night shifts compared to day shifts. Research has shown that working 12 hours a day increases the risk of injury by 37%. Therefore, to help ensure employees stay safe, healthy, and productive, see the information and tips below to assist in preventing worker fatigue.

Occupations most commonly affected:

  • Health care providers.
  • Transportation workers.
  • First responders.
  • Firefighters.
  • Police officers.
  • Military personnel.
  • Construction workers.
  • Oil field workers.
  • Service & hospitality workers.

Effects of worker fatigue:

  • Sleepiness.
  • Irritability.
  • Reduced alertness.
  • Lack of concentration and memory.
  • Impaired decision-making.
  • Lack of productivity.
  • Heart disease.
  • Stomach and digestive problems.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Reproductive problems.
  • Depression.
  • Sleep disorders.

Employer preventive measures:

  • Examine staffing issues.
    • Workload.
    • Work hours.
    • Understaffing.
  • Arrange schedules to allow for rest breaks and nighttime sleep.
  • Adjust the work area to increase alertness.
    • Lighting.
    • Temperature.
    • Physical surroundings.
  • Train employees on the hazards, symptoms, and impact of worker fatigue.
  • Educate employees on steps to help prevent the negative effects of fatigue.

Employee preventive measures:

  • Obtain seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep per day.
  • Go to sleep at the same time every day.
  • If working evenings or nights, ensure sleep occurred within the last eight hours before going to work.
  • Do not eat food or drink beverages with caffeine prior to bedtime.
  • Choose a comfortable, cool, dark, and quiet sleeping environment.
  • Exercise on a regular basis.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • If you have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep, consider a consultation with a doctor


KEMI does not assume liability for the content of information contained herein. Safety and health remain your responsibility. This information is to be used for informational purposes only and not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for proper training, supervision, or manufacturers’ instructions/recommendations. KEMI, by publication of this information, does not assume liability for damage or injury arising from reliance upon it. Compliance with this information is not a guarantee or warranty that you will be in conformity with any laws or regulations nor does it ensure the absolute safety of any person, place, or object, including, but not limited to, you, your occupation, employees, customers, or place of business.