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Work-related fatigue

Fatigue is more than feeling tired and drowsy. In a work context, fatigue is a state of mental and/or physical exhaustion which reduces a person’s ability to perform work safely and effectively.

It can occur because of prolonged mental or physical activity, sleep loss and/or disruption of the internal body clock.

Fatigue can be caused by factors which may be work related, non-work related or a combination of both and can accumulate over time.

Managing fatigue

Fatigue management is a shared responsibility between management and workers as it involves factors both inside and outside of work. Persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) are responsible for using a risk management approach to manage fatigue as outlined in the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

The Guide for managing the risk of fatigue at work provides practical guidance for PCBUs and other duty holders on how to manage fatigue to ensure it does not contribute to health and safety risks in the workplace.

Fatigue management – a guide for workers provides practical guidance for workers on how to manage fatigue to ensure it does not contribute to health and safety risks in the workplace.

Risk management

Measures to manage the risk of fatigue will vary from one workplace to the next, depending on the nature of the work, environmental conditions and individual factors.

The risks associated with fatigue can be managed by following a systematic process (described in more detail in Chapter 2 of the Guide for managing the risk of fatigue at work which involves:

  1. Identifying the factors which may cause fatigue in the workplace
  2. If necessary, assessing the risk of injury from fatigue
  3. Controlling the risks by implementing the most effective control measures reasonably practicable in the circumstances
  4. Reviewing control measures to ensure they are working as planned.

For more information on how to use the risk management approach to meet workplace health and safety obligations, refer to the How to Manage Work Health and Safety Risks Code of Practice 2011 (PDF, 1048.03 KB) .

Read more about a case study on the use of good work design in the management of fatigue risks.

Last updated
06 December 2018

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