Fatigue Management

April 19, 2017

Written by: Nathan Meles

It may be absent from many corporate HR policies, but fatigue management has been rapidly gaining awareness in the workplace. Not only is employee fatigue a hazard in some work environments, it impacts workplace morale, employee accuracy, and productivity. From industry specific safety regulations, to collective bargaining agreements, and even companies striving to optimize their employees’ performance, fatigue management is working its way into the HR space and the world of Human Capital Management (HCM) software as well.

Fatigue can be defined as “extreme tiredness, typically resulting from mental or physical exertion.” The first thought that might come to mind is physically demanding professions. A University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study once found that fatigued employees could have nearly twice the risk for injury in comparison to non-fatigued coworkers. However, the key here is “mental or physical.” Fatigue is not limited to workforces performing physically demanding tasks; any team of people can become fatigued from applying themselves in the workplace.

To prevent employees from reaching a fatigued state and begin to mitigate the risks that come along with it, one must understand what causes workers to become fatigued in the first place. One major cause of fatigue is a schedule that limits the amount of rest someone can have before starting work again. The most obvious cause of this would be from overtime or working long hours on the previous day or shift. Other circumstances include changes in schedules such as transitioning from night to day shifts or inconsistent work hours. This concept has led to the most common forms of fatigue management; work hour limitations and schedule regulation.

Work hour limits can be government mandated and are in many industries in order to promote safety in the workplace and to the public. The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission has imposed strict work hour and fitness for duty regulations in the past couple of decades for nuclear operating sites in the United States to help prevent security and safety issues within nuclear power plants. The Federal Aviation Administration has enforced regulations since the 1940s limiting flight time and ensuring pilots receive adequate rest to maintain a safely operating aviation transportation system. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also maintains federal regulations designed to improve safety for the motoring public by reducing truck driver fatigue and enforcing work hour limits for drivers. Others, such as the Refining and Petrochemical Industries do not have government mandated regulations but due to fatigue related incidents, have published recommended practices including fatigue prevention guidelines that limit hours and days of work and address shift work. Fatigue guidelines and rest policies are even making their way into collective bargaining agreements of unions to ensure employee safety and morale. Overall, fatigue management practices are becoming more apparent across more industries.

What does this all mean for the HR sector? Implementing a robust HCM system that can automate and enforce work hour rules and recommendations. HRchitect has years of experience guiding companies to make the best choice for HCM systems that can support the fatigue management policies in place. Time and attendance systems can track and notify employees and managers when worked time falls outside of guidelines and robust scheduling allows for managers to be proactive with keeping their employees rested and fit for work. Strong reporting is equally as important to keep tabs on compliance with these policies. Whether it’s simple corporate guidelines or government mandated regulations, HRchitect can recommend and implement a solution that will take the fatigue out of managing your fatigue management.

Nathan Meles

About Nathan Meles

Nathan Meles is a Senior Implementation Consultant at HRchitect with over 6 years of experience with HCM technology. Nathan specializes in workforce management having previously worked as a support engineer and product manager for nuclear, fatigue management, compliance, Time & Attendance and reporting products at WorkForce Software.