Fatigue Management

Fatigue Management

There is a popular saying for retiring people or those approaching their retirement age – ‘Why should you retire? Unless you are tired!’ It gives a great positive message for all of us that if you take care of the tiring process, not allow yourself to be tired or fatigued, you can continue to be healthy, active, and happy and make contributions to the society.

In Japan, nobody retires and they continue serving the society till their last breath. In U.K., judges have no retirement age, they lay down their office at will i.e. whenever they feel like doing so.

The subject of ‘Fatigue’ has a very simple definition- a state of tiredness leading to reduced mental and/or physical performance.

The onset of fatigue while at work can decrease a person’s alertness and compromise his/her motor skills, reflex ability, judgement, decision-making – all having adverse implications at workplace performance – in terms of quantum of output, quality, efficiency, effectiveness.

The most worrisome aspect is that such state can endanger the workplace Safety, health and well-being of the people around and can even result in catastrophe or emergencies in the surroundings, such as fires, gas-leaks, mass-sufferings, etc.

Human body has a natural circadian rhythm, guided by built-in alarm clock which tells the body when to sleep, when to wake-up, when to eat/drink, when to work efficiently both physically and mentally, when to take intermediate breaks with stretches and refreshing postures. Calm and undisturbed sleep for 6-7 hrs. a day is an essential requirement for maintaining a healthy working life. There is no alternative or any compensating method for sleep.

Contributors to fatigue

Fig 1: Contributors to fatigue

Considering the human working factors

Most of the labour laws framed under the national legislature and under the guidance provided by ILO, have taken male and female workers both into account, such as long hours of work at a stretch, shift-change patterns etc. Inherent in the labour laws is the spirit of human welfare and making work more humane. Fatigue management is the important ingredient of labour legislation.

Every work-minded and progressive organization realizes the fact that fatigue in working staff is a major drag which does not allow the people to give their best in any field of operation.

In the hazardous industrial field, it is particularly applicable that fatigue has very adverse effect on workplace safety and health performance. Management is advised to have a sound and relevant to real work situation fatigue management policy, plan, program and follow-up the implementation process at ground level.

The major steps are as follows:

  • Have awareness campaign for applicable workplace safety and health hazards and risks associated with fatigue
  • The factors in work element contributing to fatigue
  • Carry out risk assessment to manage fatigue at the workplace and provide guidance on the recommended measures and practices
  • The workmen must be actively associated with the program and they should be convinced that it is for their good as well-being and for maintaining optimal work performance

Fatigue is an adverse element, not only at the workplace, but everywhere including personal and daily life. All of us ought to take care to overcome fatigue by some general prescriptions such as:

  • Optimize sleep
  • Avoid smoking, alcohol, drugs, other sources of nicotine etc.
  • Lead active life with moderate exercise
  • Be health and safety conscious, as they are our greatest assets


Image courtesy: Taken from Goodfellow Airforce Base, U.S. Air Force Illustration by Airman 1st Class Devin Boyer/Released, accessed on 16 November 2019, 11:00 IST

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