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Winter Fatigue

- January 3, 2018 by Leslie Stoll, CSP ARM (View all posts by Leslie)

Last summer, I wrote a blog about worker fatigue that focused on the fact that summer usually brings a higher workload for many companies due to higher construction demands in the summer months. Today, it was brought to my attention that this is not just a summer issue. When temperature remains below zero for extended periods of time, HVAC contractors, mechanical contractors, overhead door contractors, and many more are pushed to the max to keep homes and businesses safe and sound in the frigid temperatures.

Below is a winter recap about worker fatigue that many employees may find useful to review this season:

    • Sleep: Encourage employees to get enough sleep when they can to make up for lost sleep during the week or weekend. According to Harvard University, it is possible to “settle short-term [sleep] debt” by getting extra sleep to make up for lost sleep. Educating your employees to make up their lost sleep can be an effective way to combat this issue.
    • Nutrition: With the holidays comes an overindulgence of not too healthy foods; what often follows is fatigue from poor nutrition. Ask your employees to set personal goals for remind your employees about the importance of fueling their hard working bodies with good nutritional foods.
    • Overtime: Overtime cannot be avoided when people are depending on your company to keep them warm. Supervisors must be conscious of how many extra hours people are working and how much rest time they are getting. For example, if Joe agrees to work late into the night for an emergency job, he may not be able to replenish his energy enough to work safely by 6am the following day and could be walking into work already fatigued and more likely to have an accident due to inattention. Supervisors must think about the human consequences of overtime and not just getting customer demands met. Your company needs to decide a policy on overtimes that work for your employee’s well-being and your production demands.

History has shown that significant accidents like the nuclear accident at Chernobyl, the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger and the BP Texas City oil refinery explosion indicate fatigue was a contributing factor. Those industries are known for their robust safety program and controls, but human factors can affect all workplaces including yours. Take time today to train you supervisors on recognizing fatigue and how to react to it.

 

 

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