Keep fatigue at bay - check in with yourself and your colleagues regularly
Fatigue can be an invisible hazard so it’s important to practise healthy strategies to keep ourselves physically fit and mentally alert both at work and in our personal lives.
It’s something that can affect any of us, at any time, and it’s more than just feeling tired. Fatigue can be triggered by a combination of lifestyle, social and psychological factors or underlying medical conditions.
Increased emotional and physical demands in our work and personal lives can lead to fatigue, but one of the main causes is lack of sleep.
Most of us need somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep each night to feel rested and recharged the next day so if you’re having broken sleep this can significantly impact how you feel.
Queensland Metals Safety and Health Operations Manager, Miranda Giuliano, says shift work goes hand in hand with the mining and resources industry and, if not managed correctly, this can contribute to disrupted sleep patterns.
“Research suggests that better sleep is linked with higher levels of concentration and performance and higher levels of wellbeing so it’s important to have effective control strategies in place to promote good sleep,” says Miranda.
“Over time, if you continually get less sleep than you need, sleep debt builds up to the point where you will become fatigued.”
“Everyone can feel tired from time to time, although this is generally overcome quickly by settling back into a good sleep routine.”
Fatigue can be difficult to diagnose as it is not a disease or condition. It is a symptom and can be associated with many ailments and influences in our lives which need to be taken into consideration.
Lifestyle, workplace and psychological stressors such as sleep disturbance, substance abuse, fitness levels, poor diet, job dissatisfaction, chronic illness, sleeping disorders, environmental factors, commuting to and from work, personal commitments, depression and grief can also play a role in contributing to fatigue.
If you generally feel you are doing the right things to manage fatigue but still feel exhausted, lack motivation and struggle to function normally, it might be time to have a chat with your doctor or health professional.
If your doctor suspects there is a medical reason for your fatigue, tests can be undertaken to determine any underlying disease or condition which can then be ruled out or treated.
Fortunately for most people, Miranda says fatigue will get better over time with some simple and practical lifestyle changes like eating well and exercising regularly.
“Being vigilant about safety and alert in the environments in which we work is vitally important but so is our ability manage and plan workloads and schedules to avoid constant overload on our minds and bodies,” says Miranda.
“Check in on your workmates who may be displaying signs of fatigue such as lack of concentration, irritability, poor judgement, slow reaction times and suggest they take regular breaks and talk to their supervisor.”
“To maintain a healthy perspective and balance in our lives we each need to take responsibility to ensure we’re fit to perform work safely.”
“We actively encourage our employees to discuss some positive sleep strategies via our Glencore Employee Assistance Program if they have having difficulty in this area of their lives .”