Fatigue At Work

In an ideal world, we’d never be tired at work. We’d be alert, energised and operating at our optimal level. We don’t live in an ideal world, and sometimes you might face fatigue at work.

Fatigue is more than tiredness. It is a state of mental and/or physical exhaustion which reduces a person’s ability to perform work safely and effectively.

It’s a real problem for two reasons.

Firstly, fatigue leads to more errors and higher risk of injury at work. This has implications for both you and your team-mates.

Secondly, long-term fatigue isn’t just hard to cope with, it also leads to long-term health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, anxiety and depression.

Do not ignore fatigue

If you’re feeling fatigued, you must speak up. Don’t try to brush it off, or try to hide it.

In the workplace, you have a responsibility to take reasonable care for your own health and safety and a responsibility to not adversely affect the health and safety of others.


Just as important for office workers

While terminology such as “effective control measures” may sound more suited to blue-collar worksites or shift workers, it’s just as important for those who work in the office.

Factors which may exacerbate fatigue for office workers include:

  • workloads and work schedules
  • work-related travel and work outside of normal hours (for example work a person has taken home to complete)
  • work practices, for example the degree of choice and control workers have over work hours, the pace of work and rest breaks, and the type of work culture.

Talk to your manager about the causes of your fatigue, to identify whether any workplace issues may be adding to the problem, and then work out a plan to reduce these factors.

Remember, fatigue is not weakness. It’s a natural biological reaction to experiencing too much or too little, such as too much exertion, or too little sleep.