Safety Best Practices

Preventing Burnout: Combating On-Site Worker Fatigue

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Salus Safety
5 min read
September 1, 2021

Few industries present the kind of on-site challenges that are a constant in construction work. Safety measures must be adhered to and equipment handled the proper way, yet demanding schedules require high productivity on a daily basis. Burnout and on-site worker fatigue can quickly become a serious problem in such environments.

Unseen on-site dangers like worker fatigue can cost a company more than money. When safety protocols aren’t adhered to, it presents a danger to employees and clients. It also puts companies at risk of being cited for non-compliance with strict government safety regulations. A recent NBC report found that 69% of employees felt tired or fatigued at work. Adding to the danger, fatigue and burnout have become so normalized that employees tend to disregard it until they hit a breaking point.

All of this has been compounded by COVID-19, which has impacted not only the construction industry, but businesses of all varieties. And unlike many fields, construction is an essential service. Many times, working from home simply isn’t an option. All of this put together is a recipe for disaster.

Luckily, new technologies can help prevent burnout and combat on-site fatigue in construction areas. Management and workflow software has advanced in leaps and bounds. When combined with a sensible management plan, such software can streamline your workflow and resolve these safety and fatigue concerns. Every business is different, and construction firms often deal with a variety of individual projects, each with unique needs. But following a few general guidelines—coupled with apps and other software that can help implement them—can address the problem effectively.

What Causes Burnout and On-Site Fatigue?

Every worker in every industry can suffer from burnout and work fatigue. There are all sorts of factors which can contribute, but look for whatever causes stress in your workspace. High stress on the job can lead to increased anxiety, loss of sleep, and other symptoms. Long hours without breaks, extended overtime, irregular work hours, and excess mental load caused by too many tasks without enough time can all push workers to the brink quickly.

The construction industry by its very nature cultivates these stress factors, as well as adding its own unique ones. Irregular hours are the norm in order to make schedules and stick to deadlines, while physical demands can be brutal. COVID safety restrictions may limit the number of workers who can be in a given location at a given time, increasing individual workloads accordingly.

What Can You Do As An Employer?

Anticipation and preparation can prevent worker fatigue and ensure safety.

Responsible employers are aware of the increased risks such a situation can cause, and must be able to address them in an effective manner. That requires planning and preparation before the project begins, as well as follow-through during construction itself. The good news is that you can take specific steps at minimal cost to maintain worker safety while sticking to a schedule. The better employers can properly manage their teams—recognizing their mental and emotional limits as well as their physical ones—the smoother workflow will proceed and the more readily safety measures can be maintained. A few general steps can help:

  • Examine schedules with an eye on possible stressors for fatigue. That includes excessive overtime, understaffed projects, and undue workloads. Adjusting or rearranging schedules for better balance works wonders.
  • Improve work environment to reduce fatigue. Adjust elements such as lighting, ambient temperature, and airflow to enhance comfort and improve safety.
  • Create and implement a fatigue risk management plan for each project. Consider safety needs, work hours, workload limits and COVID restrictions to provide the optimum balance.

What is Fatigue Management?

Proper fatigue management is essential for workers and employers alike.

Fatigue management is a catch-all term to describe whatever methods an employer utilizes to combat worker burnout and fatigue. Every organization should develop a plan based on their own needs, but all good fatigue management strategies should include the following features:

  • Monitoring. Monitor workplace fatigue risks for every project. This includes checklists detailing signs of fatigue, varied tasks to avoid repetition and boredom, and ensuring the workspace is well-lit and complies with COVID standards.
  • Providing breaks and rests. Limiting night hours and/or allowing provisions for naps mid-shift are vital to prevent worker fatigue, is as proper workflow maintenance to ensure regular breaks and reasonable hours.
  • Training. Workers should be educated not only on signs of fatigue, but also methods and guidelines to fight it.
  • Transparency. You can’t achieve workplace safety if employees are afraid to report unsafe conditions. Establish a system whereby anyone can make an actionable report safely and (if necessary) anonymously.
  • Actionability. Whatever solutions you come up with require real, concrete implementation steps, along with an idea of how long each step might take and resources are involved.

Ensure On-Site Worker Safety With Salus

Well-rested employees are a huge benefit to a company—not only with improved productivity and safety records, but with their own job satisfaction and quality of life. By acting proactively to combat on-site worker fatigue, you can ensure the safety and health of all of your workers.

That begins by asking questions specific to your operation. Start by asking how physical factors on-site will affect your workers. That includes things such as work posture, repetitive motion, lighting, and other environmental factors. Research the means available for your company to address these issues responsibly. Finally, locate a means by which this can all be implemented quickly and painlessly.

That’s where we come in. Salus provides software solutions to makes safety compliance easy, so employers don’t have to worry. Our safety software includes manageable schedules and protocols, compliance and asset features, scheduling and data integration features, subcontractor portals, and digital forms with comprehensive information access and transparency. With Salus software solutions, you can ensure your company is operating safely and efficiently without causing extra managerial headaches. Contact us today to set up a free demo of our products!

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