How to Spot the 10 Signs of Fatigue

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Fatigue is more than just a case of feeling tired or drowsy. On a work perspective, it can include both mental and/or physical exhaustion, which can impact you to do your job safely. This could result in injury. Could YOU spot the signs?


Let’s break it down…..


What are the 10 signs of Fatigue?


1. Blurred vision or impaired visual perception

Blurred Vision or Impaired visual perception could be a sign

2. Feeling unusually tired or drowsy/lack of energy

Whilst extreme tiredness and drowsiness is a sign of fatigue - it isn't the only sign

3. Headaches

4. Feeling dizzy

5. Finding it difficult to concentrate/memory problems

6. Finding it difficult to get up from sleep during days off work

If you are sleeping a lot on your days off - find out what's causing your fatigue.

7. Muscles feel sore or ache/Muscle weakness

Muscle soreness and/or aches are another sign.

8. Reflexes and responses are slower

9. Changes in behaviour such as increased moodiness and irritability

Fatigue may affect your moods and behaviour - keep an eye on your colleagues

10. Impaired decision-making and judgement

Fatigue can impair your judgement - this could result in a serious accident

What causes Fatigue?

It is important to understand what the causes are. It could be related to personal circumstances and/or factors at the workplace which may contribute.


Different workplaces or industries may be more impacted with workplace fatigue. e.g. shift workers, night workers, remote workers, fly in/fly out workers, emergency response workers, seasonal workers, health professionals, disability support workers.


This list is not exhaustive and careful risk assessment should be undertaken to understand how your workers may be impacted.


Talk to your workers.


Workplace fatigue factors include:-


1. Changes to organisational process

2. Lengthy commutes

3. Exceptionally hot or cold working environments

4. Insufficient time between shifts to recover

5. Roster systems/work scheduling

6. Lack of sleep/disruption to your internal body clock

7. Long shifts/shift work

8. Tasks involving hazardous manual tasks

9. Tasks requiring prolonged or intense mental and/or physical activity.


What kind of risk does fatigue pose in a workplace?


It is important to understand the risks associated with fatigue in order to manage them.


Increased fatigue may result in:

If you are able to spot the signs early you can try to manage the risks
  • More incidents

  • More injuries

  • More near misses

  • Poorer physical and psychological health of workers

  • Increased risk of harm to others in the workplace and to the broader community.

What can be done to manage fatigue risks in the workplace?


Consultation is key. Work with managers, team leaders and workers to undertake risk assessments. Include the following measures to be implemented in order to manage risk/s:

  1. Maintain Safe Systems of work

  2. Review/evaluate work schedules/work rosters

  3. Support workers to identify and report fatigue related hazards

  4. Conduct safety surveys incorporating questions related to fatigue management.

  5. Introduce a worker wellbeing program

Does your workplace have a Wellbeing focus?

6. Risk Assess hazardous manual tasks to ensure appropriate controls are being used. 7. Include a wellbeing focus into the Safety Management Plan and WHS policy.

8. Train selected personnel in Mental Health First Aid to support and recognise symptoms of mental health impacts.

Who are your mental health aiders at work? Who is there to support you?

9. Ensure incident investigations are undertaken to determine if fatigue risks were present and/or contributed to the incident.

10. Introduce Fitness for Work policies.

11. Review levels of absenteeism (equally, review levels of presenteeism e.g. look at behaviours - do people come to work when unwell?/do they consistently work long hours?)

Check if workers are consistently working long shifts or turning up to work when unwell.

With many people working from home due to the pandemic, make sure to also check on workload impact at home.


If you would like to know more about how to manage risk, head to Worksafe Qld as they have recently published a newly updated guide, outlining specific details surrounding fatigue management.

Ensure that you have appropriately trained First Aiders to respond to any emergency that may arise. Remember - Safety is everyone's responsibility.


Reach out if you need first aid training conducted at your workplace.


We are here to help. No boring stories - GUARANTEED!


Download your First Aid Fact Sheet for Managing Fatigue in the workplace today!

First Aid Fact - Managing Fatigue
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Download PDF • 419KB

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