Fatigue is the condition of being physically or mentally tired. In extreme cases, fatigue can lead to an uncontrolled and involuntary shutdown of the brain. Fatigue is often a major contributing factor in workplace incidents and injuries. If you are experiencing fatigue or chronic fatigue, this increases the likelihood of injury for both you and your coworkers. It is especially dangerous to operate machinery, such as the forklift, when you are fatigued. This brings danger to your entire workplace.
The negative effects of fatigue aren’t often discussed, as fatigue is difficult to quantify in accident investigations and reports. Because of this, it is best to look at fatigue as a silent, slow killer.
However, you must care for yourself, especially when your job involves manual labor. Life will always throw you some curveballs, but it is important, for your sake, to not allow a few nights of restlessness to become a trend.
Fortunately, there are ways to fight fatigue:
• Get eight hours of sleep before starting work.
• Go to bed at the same time each day.
• If possible, even if you don’t feel tired take all scheduled work breaks. Take this time to enjoy a snack. Stretch your body if you ha ve been working in an uncomfortable or stagnant position.
• If you work the night shift or are trying to nap in the daytime, make sure you find a cool, dark, quiet location to sleep. Use earplugs, soft music, or a fan to block out any surrounding noise.
• If you are concerned about a prolonged period of disturbances in your sleep, or if you suspect you may have a sleep disorder, talk to a doctor.
• Eat a well-balanced diet. Begin your “day” or period of wakefulness with high protein foods and end with carbohydrates. Also, be aware that eating great quantities before bedtime can cause trouble sleeping.
•Talk to your family (Partner, spouse, children, or roommates) if there is a better way to balance responsibilities at home so that you sleep properly before work. Remember, fatigue may not seem very threatening, but it can lead to a severe mistake or injuries later. One conversation can save you a lot of pain in the future.
Visit the USAFP website to learn more about or commitment to safety.