Today is Anzac Day, the day to remember those New Zealanders who gave their lives in all wars. The date itself marks the anniversary of the landing of New Zealand and Australian soldiers – the Anzacs – on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915.
Anzac day is an opportunity to honour our forebears and to reflect on the huge impact of war on generations of New Zealanders and on our place in the world. It is a day to show respect for those who served their country and to express sorrow for those who lost their lives or were left injured or traumatised. It is not a day to glorify war.
Anzac day is a time to reflect on the past but since 1922 it has also been a public holiday - a day of rest.
Having time away from work is needed for physical and mental recuperation. Having a good night’s sleep and not being fatigued are important when it comes to health and safety at work. Long hours and fatigue have often been associated with poor health and safety outcomes.
Fatigue can lead to:
- Poor communication
- Poor decision making
- A state of apathy
- Slowed reaction time
- Reduced vigilance
- Bad mood
Any one of these factors could have the potential to cause or influence a workplace accident.
Every individual is different and we react to being tired in different ways. Individual factors that may affect our response to tiredness and in particular to shift-work are:
- Training and experience
- Coping skills
- General health
- Rigidity of sleeping habits
- Circadian adaptability - night owl or early bird?
- Personality type - introvert/extrovert?
Below are 6 tips to help minimise fatigue at work.
- Make communication easy – employees should feel comfortable about discussing whether particular processes/shifts are causing fatigue issues.
- Eliminate jobs or shifts schedules identified as causing excessive fatigue. If this cannot be done redesign processes or change the time certain jobs are done. This might mean reducing the number of repetitive jobs on a night shift etc.
- Economic factors and production demands should not rule a person’s schedule. If you are busy don’t expect your employees to work long hours to achieve the company’s results.
- Fatigue should be recognised as a legitimate and significant workplace hazard. Fatigue may not always be caused by work cycles. Employees should be aware of the risk they pose to their colleagues if they are overtired.
- Rosters should allow for employees to have adequate rest time so that they arrive at work well rested.
- Rest breaks between shift-cycles need to be long enough to permit full recovery from any sleep debt.
So today enjoy your day of rest but take a moment to reflect and to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Lest we forget