When you consider the role of a construction worker in terms of fatigue management, the task is pretty daunting.
From our places of work to our working hours, commuting distances, sleep quality and work life balance, there is much to be done to address fatigue management within the construction industry.
With so much of our common practice failing to meet expectations across the sector, it can be difficult to know how to manage and plan for fatigue management. So many of us drive long distances whilst tired, operate machinery after interrupted sleep and work unsociable hours and extended shifts, year after year.
Yet, it can be done.
Every site and every team is different but we’ve put together the top three ways you can manage and plan for fatigue management within your construction company. Once you’ve got these 3 key areas under your belt, you’ll have a solid foundation on which to build a powerful strategy for fatigue management.
What is fatigue management in construction?
All employers have a legal duty under health and safety legislation to ensure a safe working environment. Fatigued workers are a serious health and safety hazard to themselves and others.
Fatigued employees are mentally and physically exhausted. With their brain and body running on empty, fatigued workers underperform, make mistakes, misjudge situations, react slowly, lack concentration and underestimating of risk.
Ultimately, fatigue leads to:
lack of concentration
missed days from illness and poor mental wellbeing
As employers, all four are situations you want to avoid for so many reasons so it is in an employer’s best interest to ensure you do all you can to ensure your workers are not fatigued.
Although employees may not always be fatigued because of factors from the workplace, there are many things that can put in place to address fatigue and make sure your working conditions are as safe as possible.
The biggest causes of fatigue are:
Extended shifts exceeding 10 hours
Blocked shifts with breaks in between that are too short
Let’s take a look at how you can manage fatigue within the construction environment:
How to manage and plan for fatigue management in construction:
As a construction project manager, you probably didn’t expect to have to educate your staff about the serious consequences lack of sleep has on both health and work performance – yet this is exactly what is needed.
Sleep is something we take for granted. People don’t realise fatigue has similar consequences to drinking too much. Educate your staff about how to take responsibility for their own sleep patterns and why they have a duty to ensure their sleep is a quality sleep.
Explore the contribution that food, drink and nutrition can make to our ability to sleep well and discuss how to identify signs of fatigue.
Consider together the steps that can be taken as an individual and team member when employees are tired or fatigued, both at work and during a commute.
Discuss whether there are aspects of the work environment that could help or hinder employees’ ability to get enough sleep and how these could be addressed.
Don’t feel obliged to carry out this training yourself, there are many companies who can deliver fatigue management training for you.
2. Strategic Planning:
Many aspects of the working day are beyond an employee’s direct control. Together, as a management team, consider what you can do to ensure your working conditions promote fatigue management.
Consider whether there are changes that could be made to ensure employees have long enough breaks between shifts and early starts and night work are kept to a minimum and every employee should be able to take regular breaks during their shift.
Monitor travel time to and from work, how long team members are working and whether some employees are taking on too much work or blocking shifts.
Where employees have long commutes, are there things that could be done to lighten the burden? For example, temporary accommodation or remote management software to reduce the need to travel back and forth to the office are all solutions you may wish to explore.
Are training and meetings easy for everyone to access and participate in? Are some employees using valuable downtime to catch up on training or attend meetings?
Could sessions be available through other means or scheduled at different times to ensure they easy for everyone to attend, regardless of shift pattern?
Think about how you can record and identify fatigue amongst the workforce and what you will do when you identify members of the team who are fatigued. One example is using technology like our Paperless Access Control app to manage the process for you. Simply record travel time and working hours at site entry/exit and we will automatically flag shift exceedances and potential worker fatigue.
Plan to investigate excessive working hours and incidents thoroughly and include fatigue as one of the factors that should be looked at.
Share the findings of your team discussions and see if there are trends that can be addressed.
Try to build in minimum requirements for any decisions made, to ensure standardised practice is put in place that can be adhered to by all and monitored easily to gain long term compliance.
3. Remote project management software:
Cloud project management software offers robust solutions for so many of these difficult issues.
The practical nature of cloud technology makes it scalable and sustainable long-term. Cost-effective and economical benefits of cloud technology for the construction industry are endless.
Our Paperless app’s seamless and versatile array of features are ideally suited to the construction industry. With easy access to data on the go, all employees are able to complete essential administration easily and is an efficient and robust way to record and track timekeeping and safety briefings from any location. Eliminating the inconvenience and archaic practice of having to return to the office to collect documents or complete certain tasks.
Find out more about how our software can help you to address fatigue management and transform your working practices