Fatigue is more than feeling tired and drowsy, it is a state of mental and/or physical exhaustion that reduces a person’s ability to perform work safely and effectively.

Fatigue can be caused by:

  • prolonged or intense mental or physical activity
  • sleep loss or disruption of your internal body clock
  • long shifts
  • short recovery times between shifts
  • strenuous jobs
  • long commuting times
  • poor sleep
  • family demands

Fatigue may increase the risk of incidents because of a lack of alertness and slower reaction times. It can also affect the ability to make good decisions.

How to manage the risk of fatigue at work

Safe Work Australia's guide for managing the risk of fatigue at work and fatigue management provides practical guidance for business and employers (and other (PCBUs) and other duty holders on how to manage fatigue to ensure it does not contribute to health and safety risks in the workplace.

The guide contains information that can be applied generally to all types of work and workplaces covered by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. It is not designed to provide information on managing fatigue in specific industries and does not replace requirements related to fatigue under other laws, for example heavy vehicle driver fatigue laws or rail safety requirements.

More information is available in the National Transport Commission's guidelines for managing heavy vehicle driver fatigue and the National Rail Safety Regulator's guidance on fatigue risk management program.

Guidance on heavy vehicle driver fatigue is available on the Road Maritime Services website.

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