Quite a large number of American workers as well as all workers around the world have experienced fatigue and stress at work. Studies have shown that there is constant relation between the health of an individual and the person’s productivity at work. Fatigue seems to be more common to women which can be attributed to their diverse duties.
Apart from office work, women always have other duties when they get home from work such as cooking, looking for the wellbeing of their children and husbands.
For instance, after work, a woman may pass through the shopping mall on her way from work, she may be the one cooking once she gets home or she may wake up earlier than the husband in the morning to prepare the children to go to school as well as preparing the husband for work by making him breakfast or getting his clothes ready.
By the time she gets to work she will be already tired and may be sleepy for getting up early and reluctant to perform office duties opposed to men who have fewer duties to perform besides office work. The result of fatigue is a great percentage of productivity which may lead to low income returns (Cable,1).
Causes of fatigue
Fatigue is caused by many factors in our daily life activities. Lack of enough sleep is a major contributing factor to fatigue with many people sleeping for less than seven hours which should be the minimum length of sleep by adults. The cause of inadequate sleep may result from extended working hours where many working people today continue with their office work at home especially at night since they get out of office late in the evening.
As a result they end up consuming their time for sleep leaving only few hours for rest (Michael, 1). Others may not continue with office work at home but may attend to other personal business at that time leaving them no time to get the required sleep.
Most companies are now having irregular working hours forcing them to organize shifts for workers. Those whose shifts are at night are the most affected because they go to work at night and during their free time which is daytime, they always find it difficult to sleep but rather find other income generating activities and they end up sleeping for only few hours or not sleeping at all.
With the economy inflating greatly, many people are resolving to have more than one job. For instance, a university professor may be a university lecturer shift during the day and a night shift doctor at the same time.
Such an individual finds it difficult to create time to relax and sleep and as a result he is always tired and having fatigue which is more likely to bring inefficiency in work. In other cases, some people may get the time to sleep and relax but fail to do so mainly because they are stressed may be from workplace stress or their own stress.
Others may not even be stressed but may be suffering from sleeping disorders where affected individuals generally lack sleep for no particular reason and they may go to the extremes of staying awake until morning during which they have to go to work. Shift work may also disrupt the normal sleeping rhythms where one gets used to staying awake at night to the point where he cannot find sleep even when the person gets the time to do it.
Age may also be a factor contributing to inadequacy in sleep with many teenagers sleeping late at night compared to the middle aged adults. As people age sleep seems to reduce as well with most elderly sleeping for fewer hours (Alcalay, 1). All these factors contributing to lack of enough sleep are the causes of fatigue to the affected people at work.
Signs of fatigue
One of the most obvious sign of fatigue is sleepiness where the individual feels sleepy and restlessness. A fatigued person may get easily irritated by small normal issues.
Lack of concentration in communication and conversations is another major sign of fatigue. People with fatigue often experience destructions during work accompanied by low attention and slower thinking. Lack of elegance may also be experienced.
Most people with fatigue often have reduced manual skills at work accompanied with slower performance of duties. Reduced memory capability may also be experienced though for only a short period of time. Lack of ability to deal with a lot of work within the expected timeframe is another common sign of fatigue. This may happen even when the task is within the individual’s capabilities.
Creativity especially in solving problems may be lost or may turn out to be inefficient. Uncontrolled sleep is more likely to be experienced where the fatigued person repeatedly sleeps for very few minutes unknowingly. Another sign of fatigue which may be dangerous at work or even at home is taking of risks where the affected person takes a certain measure that may endanger the business (Nyamache, 1).
Effects of fatigue
High levels of fatigue affect workplace performance in a negative way. In most cases, productivity is reduced mostly resulting to lack of concentration, reduced creativity and increased tendency of taking risks which may cause drastic losses to the business. Fatigue also increases the chances of errors which lead to poor performance and consequently to low production. Fatigue has been a major contributing factor to many industrial accidents especially in transportation industries and medical institutions.
A fatigued driver is more likely to lose control of a vehicle and cause an accident because he may lose concentration or even experience short snaps when he is driving. Similarly, a fatigued doctor or any other medical practitioner may confuse drugs or the dosage amount due to reduced attention or reduced memory and this could affect the health of the patient or even kill.
Fatigued workers as well as other people who they are dealing with are therefore at a great risk especially where operation of machines is involved or performance of critical tasks such as surgery. The effect of fatigue increases naturally as one grows older. As people get older, they tend to get only light and short lived sleep. This prevents them from gaining the recovery effects associated with sleep and as a result they are more prone to serious health problems such as heart diseases and blood pressure.
Other effects on health include stomach illness, mental illnesses and reduced ability to reproduce. In a few cases, biological processes may be disrupted and this may interrupt the treatment of certain medical conditions especially diabetes and asthma. Fatigue is also associated with other health problems such as depression and anxiety (Jones, 1). Fatigue may also cause disagreements at wok or home where the fatigued person gets irritated by small things and blames another person for almost everything.
Solutions to fatigue
Prevention and reduction of workplace injuries should start by proper management of workplace fatigue. Most responsibility falls on employees because they should always make sure that they get to work at good states to perform their duties. They should therefore make sure that they get enough rest every day after work in preparation for the next day at work.
For those workers with other personal businesses, they should get managers who would run the business so that they will only be required to check on it only once in a while but not every day after work. This would offer them adequate time to relax and sleep. Proper sleep time management is very essential for employees especially in having a regular bed time.
Good sleep may also be facilitated by keeping the bedroom as comfortable as possible and avoiding certain drinks such as caffeine a few hours before bedtime. Employees are also advised to properly manage their family or home life to ensure that sleep time is not consumed by other activities. Management and good planning of duties at workplace is as well important in preventing and avoiding fatigue.
This would prevent overworking and working until very late hours. Employees can also inform their employers when they are fatigued to be given a break in order to avoid errors in work performance. Employers especially those who work with machinery or any other critical tasks should avoid taking medications that cause drowsiness in order to avoid workplace injuries (Cyprus, 1).
As much as the employees are responsible for injury prevention through fatigue management in workplace, the employers too are required by the Health and Safety Act to provide safety for their employees while at work. Safe measures must be availed by the employer to ensure employee safety.
Employers may also help their employees manage fatigue because it affects the business as much as it is affecting the individual’s personal life. Employers should put into consideration the amount of work to be done when determining the length of shifts for employers to avoid overworking them.
Employers may also consider giving workers off time to rest and recuperate. The attention and efforts required in a particular task should also be considered when assigning shifts to employees.
Certain activities may require more physical or mental efforts than others therefore they should be given lesser periods of time. Risky tasks should be arranged to be performed at the time when workers are not tired.
Education on fatigue and its management can also be provided to both employees and employers because most people may not even realize when they are fatigued. Employers may also provide services such as one or two beds for sleeping or transport facilities to their employees.
Facilities for screening for mental or sleeping disorders as well as psychological assistance can be of great help in fighting fatigue caused by lack of sleep due to sleep disorders. With the increase in technology, there are certain workplace mats, though not popular, which can reduce stress at work and as a result increase productivity.
They help reduce fatigue by absorbing sounds and vibrations in workplace which would have otherwise caused a lot of fatigue to workers. Employees should therefore provide such mats especially where a lot of standing is involved or a lot of noise from machines is produced. Some people may use medical prescriptions although their side effects may be worse than the initial problem. Exercise is also essential in dealing with fatigue after which the person gets a good sleep.
Workplace safety is very important in all kinds of business operations to avoid any injuries to workers or even the people around. Such injuries are mainly caused by employees due to fatigue resulting from inadequate sleep. Employer fatigue is indirectly caused by the employee through overworking employers, assigning them night shifts or even giving them office work to do at home.
Employers, therefore, should contribute largely in avoiding fatigue in their employees. The employees too should ensure proper management of their time so that they always get enough sleep to avoid fatigue which would lead to accidents and injuries at work.
Basically, enough sleep is the major remedy for fatigue but the fatigued person may as well try exercising before going to bed in order to avoid body aches. Provision of safety facilities be employers especially where machinery is involved is a very important measure in preventing workplace safety as well as the safety of the society.
It is also important for employers to help to help fatigued employers by discussing the problem and even offering psychological services to those who have sleep disorders as well as those who have stress from their personal lives. Above all, a good working environment should be maintained.
Alcalay, Lisa. “Workplace fatigue busters”. 2002. Web.
Cable, Josh. “Workplace Fatigue Common, costly”. 2007. Web.
Cyprus, Sheri. “What Are the Effects of Fatigue?”. 2003. Web.
Jones, Mike. “How to Reduce Cumulative Fatigue Injuries in the Workplace”. 2010. Web.
Michael, R. “Stress and Fatigue in the Workplace”. 2001. Web.
Nyamache, Joshua. “How to Overcome Fatigue in Your Work Place”. 2010. Web.