Fatigue is often the result of strenuous working conditions, an irregular work schedule or extended hours. Workplace fatigue can create or exacerbate hazardous working conditions, and persistent or recurring fatigue can contribute to health problems. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration promulgates regulations intended to prevent worker fatigue.
Unusual or Extended Work Shifts
Workers rarely adjust fully to night shifts or irregular working hours. OSHA warns that unusual or extended shifts can result in symptoms including weariness, irritability, depression and increased susceptibility to illness. To mitigate the dangers associated with long or unusual working hours, managers should provide workers with additional breaks and meals. Employees should not be subjected to extended working hours for more than a few days at a time, especially if their work is taxing or potentially hazardous.
Poorly lit or uncomfortable workstations can contribute to fatigue in office workers. OSHA warns that glare on computer monitors from excessive lighting can cause eyestrain. Poorly positioned desks, monitors or chairs can contribute to neck and back strain. Office workers should assume a comfortable upright or reclining position while at their workstation to avoid fatigue.
Truckers and Transportation Workers
Because fatigue presents particular dangers to truckers and other transportation workers, the U.S. Department of Transportation has instituted Hours of Service Regulations. Commercial drivers should remember that fatigue is a persistent danger and one of the leading causes of fatalities on the road. However, some new technologies including monitor wristbands and center steering can help commercial drivers avoid fatigue-related accidents.
Patrick Smyth has been writing since 2005. He has worked as a college writing tutor, an English teacher in Berlin and as a legal assistant at two New York law firms. He has also designed websites on commission for clients ranging from artists to lawyers. Smyth is a 2009-2010 Fulbright Fellow and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and German literature from Kenyon College.