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Psychosocial hazards : fatigue

posted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Jessica PatersonJessica Paterson, D Dawson
Economic pressures for longer hours and round-the-clock working time arrangements along with a deregulated industrial landscape highlight the necessity to manage fatigue as an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) hazard. There have been significant advances in scientific knowledge regarding the causes, consequences and methods for controlling fatigue-related risk. Changes in the amount of sleep and/or wakefulness, circadian disruption and time on task are recognised as key contributors to an individual being fatigued. Also, the cognitive demands of a given task can shape the susceptibility of a task to fatigue-related error.The experience of fatigue is associated with increased feelings of sleepiness, impaired neurobehavioural performance and negative mood. From an operational perspective, fatigue can sometimes manifest as an increased chance of fatigue-related error and/or fatigue-related accident or injury due to cognitive impairment.Traditionally, fatigue has been managed primarily through the regulation of working time arrangements; specifically, regulation of shift maxima and break minima along with aggregate limits on total working hours over a specified period of time. Recent research suggests that this is of limited benefit and that a systems approach based on the principles of risk and safety management may provide better risk mitigation. This chapter outlines the Defences in Depth (DiD) approach to fatigue management that encompasses five levels of fatigue-related hazards and their associated controls. Understanding and managing fatigue is essential to building a healthy and safe workplace.


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Core body of knowledge for generalist OHS professionals

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Safety Institute of Australia

Place of Publication

Tullamarine, VIC.

Open Access


External Author Affiliations

Appleton Institute for Behavioural Sciences; Appleton Institute for Behavioural Sciences;

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