tiredness and fatigue

New research, from Westfield Health, has found over one in ten of working brits have purposefully taken a nap at work, and over a third say their mental wellbeing is reduced due to tiredness and fatigue

The study which examines how tiredness and feeling fatigued impacts on performance at work, also shows 86% of workers don’t feel confident in speaking with their line manager about how it is impacting on their performance.

Fatigue, which is defined as extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness, is an epidemic which is stretching beyond work for UK employees, with 55% saying it is affecting them at home too.

Almost half (46%) said they regularly turn up to their jobs feeling too tired to work, and more than a third (37%) say they tend to be more forgetful and make errors, as a result of tiredness.

The study shows men were more likely (14%) than women (9%) to take a nap at work, and 16-24-year-olds were the age group most likely to do so. The effect of fatigue is broad with people admitting to making errors and being forgetful (37%), being short-tempered with colleagues (30%), drifting to sleep (22%) and even drifting off whilst driving (13%).

This can be particularly detrimental in high-risk industries such as construction and manufacturing, where workers use machinery and accidents can happen. 23% of employees in the construction industry and 28% in the manufacturing industry have drifted to sleep whilst working and worryingly, 71% of employees in the construction industry aren’t aware of any clear health and safety regulations in place at their work.

More seriously, 30% have had an accident, made a serious mistake or felt exceptionally stressed at work due to fatigue. Respondents of the survey described trapping their hand in a machine due to fatigue, resulting in a disability, having an accident during a 66 hour week which resulted in a three-day coma and irrationally getting angry at a colleague and firing them unduly.

Richard Holmes, Director of Wellbeing at Westfield Health said: “It’s extremely worrying to see how fatigue is impacting the working population. It’s not just being overworked and lack of sleep that can cause us to feel fatigued. Extreme tiredness happens as a result of a number of factors including mental health and diet.”

So what’s the solution? One in six (16%) believe their employer could do more to reduce the risk of accidents and mistakes at work due to stress. Currently, 86% believe their colleagues, including management, do not understand the potential consequences of fatigue and lack of sleep and only 9% say their workplace would accept tiredness or fatigue as a genuine reason to call in sick.

Richard continues: “Fatigue and tiredness is an issue that employers and particularly line managers should not overlook. Employers need to ensure there are clear health and safety regulations in place around fatigue, especially in industries that require high levels of concentration.

“The importance of rest time both at work and at home should be taken seriously and encouraged by employers, and fatigue should be considered just as important as any other physical injury or illness.”

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