In industries for which shift work is a primary part of operations, fatigue is always a concern. Fatigue is more than the tired sensation you get after a long day at work. Fatigue is an intense feeling of physical or mental exhaustion brought on by prolonged exertion without rest periods. While we all could get a little more rest from time to time, fatigue is particularly dangerous and can lead to dire consequences. Both the Exxon Valdez and Chernobyl disasters are said to have been caused by fatigued workers. While OSHA does not provide a specific policy in regards to fatigue, it does address it in information regarding extended work hours. An OSHA attorney can always keep you abreast of current OSHA regulations and provide tips for compliance.
What is a Fatigue Management System?
A fatigue management system is a set of procedures used to minimize the risk of fatigue and its impact on productivity. Fatigue management systems should include:
- A set of procedures that minimize the likelihood of fatigue
- A set of policies that address how employee fatigue will be handled
- Methods for determining if an employee is fatigued
- An education program that discusses the dangers of fatigue, how to spot it, and what lifestyle adjustments can be made to avoid fatigue
Fatigue management systems are important because it allows workers the rest needed to keep them productive. While fatigue management systems won’t prevent an OSHA citation, an OSHA defense attorney would tell you that an alert worker is more likely to be compliant.
Fatigue Management Procedures
Following these procedures can help alleviate fatigue among your workforce and should be a part of a fatigue management system:
- Create shift schedules that give workers time to eat, sleep, commute to work, and socialize.
- Make the work environment conducive to alertness by adding lighting.
- Provide meals for overnight workers
- Provide on-site accommodations or nap areas.
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.