Workplace fatigue can lead to accidents, injury,
ill-health and loss of productivity.
It has been cited as the root cause of many significant
accidents including the Clapham Junction rail disaster,
Chernobyl, the Texas City oil refinery explosion, the Exxon
Valdez oil spill and the loss of the Challenger space
Fatigue is also implicated in 20% of accidents on major roads.
What is fatigue and why should I be concerned about it?
Fatigue is generally considered to be a decline in mental and/or
physical performance that results from prolonged exertion, sleep
loss and/or disruption of a person's 'internal clock'.
Worker fatigue can result in:
- lack of attention
- slower reactions
- reduced co-ordination
- decreased awareness
- underestimation of risk
- memory lapses or absent-mindedness
- a reduced ability to process information
Causes of workplace fatigue
Fatigue can arise as a result of excessive working time or
poorly designed shift patterns. It is also related to workload,
since workers are more easily fatigued if their work is
machine-paced, complex or monotonous.
HSL helps you to benefit from managing the risks of
Research shows that some working patterns result in less fatigue
than others. By taking advantage of more favourable patterns and
allowing sufficient recovery time, it is possible to balance the
needs of both worker and workplace.
Our human reliability team has developed a deep understanding of
the issues surrounding fatigue over many years and is very familiar
with the scientific knowledge and thinking in this area.
The team provides expert assistance to businesses and
regulators, as the many interacting factors that can contribute to
fatigue make this a challenging risk to manage without informed
Managing fatigue offers measurable benefits and return
on investment, including:
- increased productivity
- healthier shift patterns
- increased employee motivation
- optimised alertness and decision making
- assurance of compliance with relevant H&S regulations
- staff buy-in to managing fatigue on- and offline
- reduced likelihood of fatigue-induced human error leading to
Get expert consultancy and opinion
Julie Bell is HSE's topic lead for fatigue and human error, and
heads our Human Reliability team and has provided expert evidence
in numerous major incident investigations (e.g. Buncefield,
With her team, Julie offers consultancy services to help
organisations to manage fatigue risk by making sensible
improvements, educating and engaging their workers, addressing any
organisation-specific issues and questions, and by checking for
compliance with the Working Time Regulations and HSE's
As workload and demands on the worker are key factors in
assessing the fatigue risk, we can conduct exploratory work to
quantify the demands placed on the workers. This can allow
businesses to optimise assessments when using HSE's Fatigue Risk
HSL can also work at an industry level, with the trade
associations and/or regulators to understand the specific issues
and consider what would be reasonable in a particular industry.
Contact us now
If you would like to discuss fatigue risk management
with a member of our Human Reliability team, please contact Kevin
Hallas on +44 (0)791 808 7726 or email firstname.lastname@example.org