Tiredness can kill. This well-known slogan is used by the DVLA to warn drivers of the life-threatening risks of driving when tired. Not getting a good night’s sleep impacts on many areas of our lives, so it’s no surprise that it has huge implications for the construction industry.
A construction worker is under pressure to get the job done quickly. Adding in long working hours and other factors can quickly make workers fatigued. It’s such a big issue that the employer has a legal duty to monitor fatigue in its workforce where necessary. Managing fatigue doesn’t need to be done on an individual basis, but a policy and system will help to reduce accidents occurring due to over-tired contractors and staff.
How do you know it’s fatigue?
It’s sometimes difficult to establish whether fatigue is what’s causing accidents and issues on-site. You won’t exactly see contractors having naps on their break or nodding off as they work (although this can happen).
The signs of fatigue on a construction site come in many forms, such as increased accidents, absences due to sickness, projects taking longer to complete, and a fall in quality of workmanship. A construction site can feel hectic and disorganised, and contractors may be time-pressured, which can result in a rise of serious accidents.
Projects behind time and over budget are a pressure chamber waiting for serious accidents to occur.
Reducing the effects of fatigue on construction sites.
Companies may choose to use spreadsheets and paper-based tracking systems to keep an eye on hours worked and rest periods for staff. It only takes some minor mistakes to slip through the net, and for someone to make a mistake. Staff may not honestly record their breaks as they might feel the need to get back to work quickly.
A site doesn’t need a specific fatigue policy (this is optional), but it should have documentation that considers and details the shift, work, and rest patterns of workers. It’s also important for construction companies to consider how the working environment, emotional wellbeing, use of equipment, etc., will impact on fatigue levels.
Fatigue Risk Management by Mosaic Management Systems offers a simple solution to monitor and reduce fatigue-related incidents. This system ensures that managers can pinpoint risks of fatigue and take appropriate measures. Removing overworked contractors removes the risk of fatigue on a project and helps productivity to remain stable. For tips on how to manage workplace fatigue, read our otherblog here.