Irregular and extended shifts are common in certain industries. The construction industry is among those industries that often requires both long work hours and irregular shifts. As a result, workers experience both mental and physical fatigue. Unfortunately, fatigue tends to be overlooked, but ignoring fatigue comes with repercussions that construction companies cannot afford. In this two-part series, our Brandon construction attorneys discuss the importance of combating worker fatigue.
Fatigue Impairs Workers’ Ability to Perform Their Jobs Effectively
Working a schedule that is demanding in terms of scheduling and workload impairs a worker’s ability to perform their job in a safe and effective manner. If a worker is not getting enough sleep due to having to work the night shift, their body’s natural cycle will be impacted. Fatigue will cause a worker to struggle with alertness as their response and reaction times will be much slower. It will also be more difficult for them to concentrate on important tasks such as vehicle operations. If they are working in high-hazard areas, slow response times can be dangerous to them, their team members, and the public. Fatigue decreases productivity, increases the likelihood of accidents, and can result in workers’ compensation claims, as well as lawsuits against your company.
Risky Employer Practices
The National Safety Council conducted a survey in 2017 that focused on fatigue within the American workforce as a whole. The report, Fatigue in the Workplace: Risky Employer Practices, examined workplace practices and policies that contribute to worker fatigue. The following findings were reported:
- Although most employers want to understand the root causes of worker fatigue, only approximately 55 percent of them are willing to adjust job tasks or schedules
- Over 70 percent of employers underestimate the prevalence of fatigue in their workforce
- Over 70 percent fail to discuss the subject of worker fatigue
- Approximately 61 percent believe workers are uncomfortable admitting when they are too fatigued to perform their job safely
- An estimated 51 percent assign a night shift to workers immediately before or after a day shift
- Construction employers must understand that a combination of overtime scheduling, night shift work, and a lack of rest between shifts increases worker fatigue.
Read part two to learn about how your company can reduce worker fatigue.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.