PF Olsen Aus logo.jpg

Fatigue Management

Information for this article was sourced/summarised from Guide for Managing the Risk of Fatigue at Work issued by Safe Work Australia . This publication provides comprehensive advice for assessing and controlling the risks of fatigue in the workplace.

Fatigue is a state of mental and or physical exhaustion which reduces a person’s ability to perform work safely and effectively. Fatigue reduces alertness which may lead to errors and an increase in incidents and injuries. Experiencing fatigue over a prolonged period can also lead to serious short and long term health effects.
Many of the identified factors leading to fatigue are present in forestry work including:

  • Early start times and late finishes with corresponding sleep debt.
  • Working at night.
  • Concentrating for extended periods of time.
  • Performing repetitious work.
  • Performing work requiring continuous physical effort.
  • Exposure to heat, cold, vibration or noisy workplaces.
  • Extended travel between work and home.

In addition non-work related factors can contribute to fatigue such as health, family responsibilities and lifestyle.
Business owners, managers, supervisors and workers all have obligations to control the risks in the workplace from fatigue. The impact of fatigue should be considered when conducting risk assessments.
Some controls to limit the impact of fatigue include:

  • Develop a fatigue policy for all workers including managers and supervisors.
  • Allocate workers consecutive days off to allow for at least two full nights’ sleep including some weekends.
  • Consider if night work is necessary and rearrange schedules so non-essential work is not carried out at night.
  • Ensure fit-for-purpose plant, machinery and equipment is used at the workplace.
  • Ensure seats in machinery are in good condition to limit the impact of vibration and poor posture.
  • Have plans in place for situations where unexpectedly long hours have to be worked, for example arranging to have crews driven home by a non-fatigued person.