Health & Safety: Understanding the risk of fatigue at work 

Fatigue in the workplace has been recognized as a major cause of accidents. In fact, an Australian study found that after being awake for 17 hours straight, a person’s reaction times can be just as impaired as someone with a blood alcohol content of 0.05 percent.

Fatigue is defined as a feeling of tiredness that comes from physical, mental or emotional exertion resulting in a state of reduced alertness or functioning.

Most people need about 8 hours of sleep a day. Here are some proven fatigue risk mitigation strategies to try:  

  1. Start your day with a good breakfast that includes protein, complex carbohydrates, and good fats. Have a snack 2 to 3 hours later to stabilize blood sugar levels.
  2. Try to follow a regular meal pattern and keep lunches to a reasonable size as larger meals increase the urge to sleep.
  3. Stay hydrated by drinking 6 – 8 glasses of water a day.
  4. For extra energy, eat more protein.
  5. Get moving – go for a brisk walk and get some fresh air or stretch. Physical activity helps to combat those sleepy moments throughout our workday and improves our sleep quality.
  6. Learn to take 15 to 20 minute power naps. A power nap can return 2 hours of high productivity.
  7. Establish a regular sleep routine to get an adequate amount of sleep every night.
  8. Reduce caffeine intake at least 6 hours before going to bed.
  9. Avoid using electronics 30 minutes before going to bed, as the blue light emitted impacts the production of our sleep-wake cycle hormone (melatonin) and makes it difficult for us to fall asleep and wake up the next day.