Being tired on the job is a health and safety issue many businesses have to grapple with, says a world authority on worker fatigue.
“Fatigue is just another hazard,” says Professor Drew Dawson, director of the Appleton Institute at the Central Queensland University.
“Businesses need to be aware that the effects of fatigue on performance are similar to the effects of alcohol. It’s not reasonable to be in the workplace under the influence of alcohol or under the influence of fatigue.”
Managing fatigue is also about making sure staff have had sufficient sleep to work safely, says Prof Dawson.
But an employer can only do so much. Sure don’t have staff work 16 hours in a row, but what if they are fatigued and only working eight hours?
“Most people confuse fatigue management with their employment agreement and assume that if you comply with the rules of rostering, then it will be safe.
“It doesn’t take much thinking to realise this is not always true. For instance, if you’re up all night with a sick child, you will be unfit for work, irrespective of how long your shift is.”
This is true, but what does an employer do? Send a parent home because they were up all night? Is that the employer’s decision or the employee’s?