Worker and Driver Fatigue

18/12/2014BY: Tracey Mesken

​With the silly season upon us and many of us continuing to work, travel and also catch up with friends and family it is important for us all to remember that driver fatigue is one of the top three contributors to the road toll. Research has shown that fatigue can be as dangerous as other road safety issues, such as drink driving. But unlike drink driving, there are no laws regulating driver fatigue. Your safety is in your hands.

Worker Fatigue is also significant cause of workplace accidents and incidents in a broad range of industries including mining, road transport, aviation, rail, manufacturing, construction, hospitality and health care. If you are concerned about your fatigue levels while at work for WorkPac notify your supervisor and recruitment coordinator straight away.

Thinking about hitting the road? Test how tired you might be before you get behind the wheel, get some tips to help avoid driving tired, and share your results with your friends at

So what is Fatigue?
Fatigue is a feeling of weariness, tiredness, or lack of energy that does not go away when you rest. People may feel fatigued – in body or mind (physical fatigue or psychological fatigue).

With physical fatigue, your muscles cannot do things as easily as they used to. You might notice this when you climb stairs or carry objects. With psychological fatigue, it may be difficult to concentrate for as long as you used to. In severe cases, you might not feel like getting out of bed in the morning and doing your regular daily activities
Mental fatigue can ONLY be reduced with quality sleep!

A Definition of Fatigue
“Reduced ability and/or inclination to perform mental or physical work as a result of too much effort (mental or physical) and not enough recovery” Prof. Philippa Gander

So what's making you so tired all the time?
Most of the time, fatigue can be traced to one or more of your habits or routines. Fatigue can be a normal and important response to physical exertion, poor eating habits, emotional stress, boredom, or lack of sleep.
In some cases, however, fatigue is a symptom of an underlying medical problem that requires medical treatment.

Health Concerns associated with Fatigue include:
• High blood pressure
• Heart disease
• Stroke
• Diabetes
• Depression
• Obesity
• Digestive Disorders

Causes of Fatigue
The most common cause of fatigue is put down to being tired, mentally or physically, but there are also other factors that can trigger fatigue which include:

Medical causes – unrelenting exhaustion may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease or diabetes.
Lifestyle-related causes – feelings of fatigue often have an obvious cause, such as sleep deprivation, overwork or unhealthy habits e.g. eating the wrong foods at the wrong time
Emotional concerns and stress – fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.
NB: Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Symptoms of Fatigue

Behavioural Signs of Fatigue

• Eyelids drooping or bloodshot
• Micro-sleeps
• Blinking increases
• Yawning becomes uncontrolled
• Face loses expression
• Speech is slowed

Performance Signs of Fatigue

• Loss of attention
• Make errors and work slower
• Reduced ability to anticipate
• Short periods of involuntary sleep
• Failure to observe warning signs
• Have a higher rate of incidents
• Lowered ability to solve problems

The Effects of Fatigue are similar to those of alcohol

• Being awake for 17 hours impairs performance to the same level as having a 0.05 blood alcohol content.
• Being awake for 20 hours impairs performance to the same level as having a 0.1 blood alcohol content

Fatigue Risk Management Solutions:

Most people need between 8 and 10 hours sleep a night. This does not include lying in bed awake!

If you miss out on your required level of sleep, you need to make it up quickly. To do this there are certain things you and your employer can look at to reduce your risk of Work place fatigue.

Possible solution or considerations could be:

• Having a good roster with adequate breaks
• Assessing fatigue related hazards
• Informing staff about the challenges of shift work
• Assessing the role of fatigue in accidents and incidents
• Providing shift work lifestyle training on how to sleep / stay alert / be safe / balance home and work life.

The Only Way To Beat Fatigue Is To:

• Maintain a healthy lifestyle by exercising and managing your dietary intake
• Catch up on your sleep debt – get a few early nights
• Limit your stress levels if possible
• Improve your diet habits so that your blood sugar stays more constant
• Get into regular sleep and wake patterns
• Understand your personal sleep pattern and work with it.