A look at how fatigue can increase the risk of accidents

A state of fatigue in the mind or body restricts an individual's ability to perform their work, health and safely.

A state of fatigue in the mind or body restricts an individual’s ability to perform their work,  and health safety. Besides overwork, inadequate or disturbed sleep, physical exertion, mental strain, and prolonged waking hours, fatigue can occur due to overwork, physical exertion, and mental strain.

As a result of the extreme feeling of exhaustion, fatigue makes it difficult to get up in the morning, go to work, do regular chores all day long, or do anything else that needs doing. A strong desire for sleep might arise, and you might not feel refreshed after resting or sleeping.

Are you aware of the fatigue-related statistics in Australia? 

  • The average Australian feels tired at least once a week when driving
  • Twenty to thirty percent of all road deaths and severe injuries are caused by fatigue
  • A quarter of Australians say they have experienced a microsleep episode while driving

An important factor that causes fatal road accidents is that a person’s body clock does not keep up with their attention, resulting in fatigue. There is an increased risk of making mistakes and causing accidents, whether on or off the job, including while driving to and from work.

The likelihood of making a mistake increases when a driver is tired. In the majority of car accidents, drowsy drivers cannot react or see adequately to road conditions because they are unable to respond to them when they are drowsy.

Fatigue-related accidents often result in fatalities because cars tend to drive at high speeds, which makes them more dangerous than other types of accidents. Oncoming drivers are unaware that another vehicle may cross the middle lane and crash into them without any warning, so they have a limited time to react.

Fatigue symptoms: what are they? 

The inability to concentrate and the indifference to what is happening. The feeling of restlessness, irritability, and impatience is associated with frequent yawning, nodding of the head, and being unable to keep the eyes open.  

As well as fatigue, fatigue can cause a wide spectrum of physical, mental, and emotional problems, including:

  • A constant feeling of tiredness or sleepiness
  • Migraine
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Weakness in the muscles
  • A slowdown in reflexes and responses
  • Having difficulty making decisions and judging situations
  • The tendency to be moody or irritable
  • A lack of coordination between the hands and the eyes
  • An absence of appetite
  • An impaired immune system
  • Blurred vision
  • An inability to recall short-term information
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Experiences of hallucination
  • Paying attention to the present situation is difficult due to reduced ability to focus
  • A low motivation level.

Factors that cause fatigue

There are many factors that can trigger fatigue, including:

  • There may be a medical cause for exhaustion, such as thyroid disorders, heart disease, or diabetes.
  • The cause of fatigue can be lifestyle-related. For example, drinking alcohol or using drugs or not exercising regularly can contribute to fatigue.
  • Factors that may contribute to fatigue at work – work-related stress may increase fatigue levels
  • Anxiety and stress – fatigue are common symptoms of mental health problems, including depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as irritability and lack of motivation.
  • There are a number of factors that can contribute to fatigue, for example, a combination of factors.

Fatigue at work: a burden

An increase in work-related problems can be attributed to muscular disorders and injuries caused by fatigue. Employees who are fatigued report significantly decreased productivity and a greater likelihood of making mistakes. Fatigue not only causes productivity to drop, but it also reduces a worker’s commitment to safety. Consequently, they have slower reaction times.

As a result of fatigue, you will be slower to react, unable to process information, forgetful, unconscious, unaware, unable to pay attention, and more likely to be in danger. An increase in fatigue can lead to increased errors, accidents, illnesses, and injuries, as well as lower productivity.

It has been concluded by the Transportation Accident Commission that “Decision-making and response times can be impaired by fatigue while driving, increasing the risk of an accident.” In addition, young drivers and drivers working shifts are considered to be at greatest risk (including commercial drivers). 

There has been research showing that fatigue is directly responsible for 30 percent of serious workplace injuries; overworked or tired workers are 70% more likely to be involved in industrial hazards than alert, well-rested ones.

As a result of active fatigue, being overweight is associated with stress, coping efforts, and decreased employment participation, while passive fatigue results in reduced work participation, stress, and a reduced ability to assess challenges.

A decrease in participation in activities is a sign of passive fatigue. Further, inactive drivers respond less quickly to unforeseen situations and are more likely to crash than those in a controlled and active environment.

In these conditions, muscles absorb energy while controlling organ movement. Regardless of fatigue effects, muscle damage occurs at the same length. The problem with tired muscles is that their elasticity may not reach the level that causes injury before they absorb less energy.

Tiredness is a state of exhaustion, both mentally and physically. Personal injury and transport errors caused by fatigue can be major causes of accidents and can be a significant hazard to the vessel and crew.

There are a number of mental health problems associated with fatigue, including anxiety, anxiety disorders, chronic depression, and other mental health conditions. Chronic anxiety leaves the body and mind stressed, alert, and in a constant state of alertness.

The following measures can be taken to control fatigue:

You should schedule 11 hours of intermittent shifts every 24 hours, with one full day of rest every seven days, so you get enough sleep and can recover. Be careful not to punish caregivers or those with limited access to overtime or long hours.

In the management of fatigue, there are some medical causes that should be considered as obstacles, and therefore ought to be addressed by a medical professional. Chronic fatigue syndrome is a medical condition that can indicate an underlying illness, such as thyroid disease, heart disease, or diabetes. Several lifestyle factors can contribute to fatigue, such as alcohol or drugs, as well as a lack of regular exercise. Causes of fatigue at work – stress at work can contribute to fatigue.

As a result of Australian health and safety laws, businesses have a responsibility to look after their workers, including addressing fatigue risks and challenges. In making decisions about managing fatigue risk, you should also engage your workers, since these measures directly impact them. Your employees may have a better understanding of what the causes of fatigue are at work than you do, so it is a good idea to discuss fatigue with them. 

In order to combat workplace fatigue, you can implement several measures with your employees. The following are some of them:

  • Achieving an adequate sleep schedule for workers and keeping them from working long hours; 
  • Assuring that workers take regular breaks and rest;
  • Ensuring that workers arrive at work safely and that they are treated with respect as they travel to and from work. When working long hours or exhausting shifts, it is not always safe to drive; 
  • Educating workers on workplace fatigue, as well as how to identify the warning signs and problems associated with it; 
  • It is important to create a culture where worker fatigue issues and other health and safety issues can be raised; 
  • Make sure your employees’ rosters are accurate, and that their working hours are reasonable;
  • By varying your employees’ work, you will be able to motivate them better.
  • Your workplace’s physical and environmental conditions can also be considered in addition to your employees. How conducive are the working conditions to safety and effectiveness? Do you have plans in place to prevent your workers from being exposed to the worst weather conditions if the workplace is outside? Several important things need to be considered. 

Taking Away Points

In accordance with health and safety laws, your business has a responsibility to manage and prevent fatigue. Consider what is exhausting or fatiguing your employees, as well as what might pose a risk to them, and converse openly with them if you are unclear about their day-to-day challenges. Your employees can reduce fatigue in many ways, such as improving their sleep and rest habits, encouraging an open and productive health and safety culture, and examining their environment.  

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