fitness for duty

The Importance of a Fatigue Management Program

Reducing fatigue in the workplace helps ensure continued productivity and safe workers.



According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 69% of employees report being fatigued at work. Lack of sleep over an extended period is a leading cause of fatigue, among other factors such as drug or alcohol impairment, illness, or stress. We know that fatigue reduces productivity and leads to significant risk of injuries and accidents, hence why managing it is important for companies to ensure continued productivity and keeping their workers safe.

The risk of a fatigued workforce is especially challenging for companies with workers operating heavy machinery or driving for the majority of their workday. After approximately 18 hours of being awake, the effects on reaction time, vigilance, multi-tasking, and hand-eye coordination are comparable to having a blood alcohol content of 0.05%. After 20 hours of being awake, drowsy drivers are impaired on a level equal to a 0.08% blood alcohol content, which is the current legal limit in most states. After 24 hours awake, impairment is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.1%.

With so many workers experiencing the effects of fatigue, companies are looking at ways technology can help them manage the risks and prevent potential injuries or accidents. Fatigue identification tools and software are making serious headway as a viable fatigue management solution.

What is the cost associated with fatigue?

For many workers, fatigue is almost inevitable; truck drivers are especially vulnerable due to their long hours, while workers in manufacturing or mining often work multiple exhausting night shifts in succession.

About 13% of workplace injuries are directly attributable to fatigue. Common work fatigue symptoms include:

  • Slower reaction times
  • Reduced ability to process information
  • Lapses in memory, judgment, and emotional regulation
  • Absent-mindedness/difficulty concentrating
  • Decreased awareness
  • Reduced coordination

Fatigue can also contribute to serious long-term health problems including heart disease, hypertension, and depression or anxiety – as a result, it is extremely dangerous to have fatigued employees at work.

The costs of fatigue include:

  • $136 billion lost each year in productivity, across all industries
  • NSC estimates that an employer with 1,000 employees can expect more than $1 million lost each year to fatigue - $272,000 due to absenteeism and $776,000 due to presenteeism (inferior performance at work)
  • An additional $536,000 in healthcare costs which could be avoided with optimization of sleep health

What are fatigue management strategies?

There are many factors that contribute to worker fatigue. Fortunately, there are some basic strategies employers can use to help reduce worker fatigue and its negative impact on the workplace.

  1. Educate workers about sleep and fatigue: It is important for all workers to understand the benefits of good sleep habits. Education about the impact of fatigue is also helpful, as is making sure workers know the physical, mental, performance, emotional and behavioral signs of it.
  2. Pay special attention to unusual or extended work shifts: Most workers struggle to fully adapt to unusual shift work; be sure to provide additional breaks to allow workers optimal rest. In addition, try to avoid extended working hours beyond three consecutive days.
  3. Implement a fatigue detection system: These systems measure cognitive function to assess workers’ fitness for duty before they start their shift, mitigating the risk of fatigue in the workplace.


How Aware360 can help

Our Aware4Duty solution is a scientifically proven cognitive screening software that assesses employee alertness in a game-like manner. Aware4Duty measures cognitive function based on response and recall and can quickly identify impairment from fatigue, medication, illness, or drugs and alcohol. The non-invasive assessment takes only 90 seconds, which means your workers can start their day and you can have the peace of mind knowing that they are fit for duty.

Connect with us today and see how Aware360 can help you create a safer and more productive workplace. 

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