What is Fatigue?
Fatigue refers to a personal health condition of an employee in which the output of the activity performed decreases as a result of previous activity. It is directly proportional to the poorness of the output, which means, as the level of fatigue increases, poorness of output also tends to increase.
It can be said that fatigue is a state in when the person is physically or mentally exhausted, which ultimately decreases his/her efficiency to work effectively. It causes due to prolonged or intense activity be it physical or mental, disruption of the internal body clock, loss of sleep, etc.
Fatigue is a psychological and physiological phenomenon that arises when we use more energy than we actually consume.
Industrial Fatigue has a significant influence on a worker’s body and mind. It is the reduction in the capacity to work due to the work performed previously. It occurs because of the work of muscles, wherein the energy is spent at a faster rate than it is actually recovered. It can be:
- Physical Fatigue: When a person is not able to apply force within one’s muscles to the extent expected concerning the person’s general fitness. Resultantly there is a decrease in output.
- Mental Fatigue: It is a psychological phenomenon, occurring due to mental strain and tiredness, which also leads to a reduction in efficiency and output. When continuous mental attention and effort are involved in the performance of a particular job, it causes mental fatigue. Unlike physical fatigue, mental fatigue is not easily measurable.
The Body Clock
Another name for the body clock is circadian rhythm. The brain and body functions of a person like sleep and wake cycles, hormones, temperature, and digestion work in sync due to an internal process in the brain which is our body clock. Therefore, each and every aspect is regulated by the internal clock.
Types of Fatigue
It is of two types:
It results from short-term sleep loss or from involving in mental or physical activities for the long term. It can be treated when a person gets enough sleep and rest.
Fatigue that lasts for more than six months is a chronic one. People experiencing chronic fatigue are very tired and not able to function their daily chores properly.
Fatigue is not just feeling tired and drowsy, but it is much more than that. It is the lack of mental alertness resulting from a lack of rest or sleep. A worker experiencing fatigue can possibly make mistakes and be less responsive to emergency situations. Dizziness and headache in workers are commonly seen when a person is fatigued. Other symptoms may include:
- Slower thinking process
- Lack of creativity
- Slow reflexes
- Short term memory issues and not being able to concentrate/focus
- Blurry vision
- Poor Judgement
- Excessive Yawning
- Changes in behavior
- Loss of appetite
- Microsleep – accidental or unnoticed sleep between 1 to 30 seconds
Effects of Fatigue at Workplace
- Decrease in Productivity
- Quality of work gets reduced
- Wastage of material and resources
- Increase in rework
- Accident rate shoots up
- Increase in idle time
- Increase in absenteeism
- Rise in employee attrition
- Increase in rework
- Number of errors increases
Longer-term Health Effects of Fatigue in a Person
- Heart Diseases
- High Blood Pressure
- Lower fertility
- Gastrointestinal disorders
Fatigue is not just work-related, but non-work-related factors or the combination of both the factors can also lead to fatigue. These are:
Work Duration: The primary cause of fatigue is long working hours or excessively long shifts. If there is continuous work without any breaks or rest pauses, it may lead to fatigue in the workers, because they do not get adequate time to recover. Apart from that long commuting time and strenuous jobs also causes fatigue. Consequently, the productivity of workers will decrease.
Work speed: If the work is of such a nature where speed is high, employees are easily prone to fatigue, due to lack of rest.
Environmental factors: When the workplace or factor is not properly illuminated, or when the noise level is very high or when the temperature is high, it may also result in fatigue in the employees.
Type of Work: Fatigue is not only physical, it can be mental too. In the case where the work causes tension due to non-achievement of targets or non-approval of a project by the client, etc. then also fatigue occurs.
Shift jobs: when the job is of such a nature where the worker has to work in shift, his/her sleep is disturbed, which results in fatigue.
Physical and Mental Condition of the worker: Age, strength, stamina, and health of the worker also result in stress with varying intensity.
Workplace Layout: When the layout of the workplace, i.e. placement of machines and equipment is done in a manner that causes unnecessary motion of workers, it amounts to fatigue.
How to reduce Fatigue?
Here are certain ways which can help reduce fatigue to a great extent:
- High-Quality Sleep: Sleep between 7 to 9 hours is a must for every person each night or per 24-hour cycle.
- Avoid Stimulants: Stimulants like alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine should be avoided to improve your sleep quality.
- Healthy Diet: A healthy diet will always help in recovering faster and improve your body health and immunity.
- Exercise and Hydrate: One should regularly exercise to fight fatigue. It brings energy and keeps you active all day long. Plus, hydration is also important to keep your body healthy. One should drink 2-3 liters of water daily.
- Take Breaks: Take all the scheduled breaks and relax during that time. You can go out to take fresh air and have a short walk to keep yourself stress-free and healthy.
Fatigue may result in the risk of accidents due to lack of alertness, slower reaction to signals, etc. Hence, it is a risk to the health and safety of the worker. Hence, suitable measures need to be adopted in consultation with the workers, so that they can take proper rest which can reduce the risk factor due to fatigue.