Construction workers are accustomed to hitting the job site early and sometimes staying late. Often, your working environment is noisy, dusty and blazing hot or freezing cold. You lift, bend, climb and assume perilous postures to do your job. By the end of your shift, you’re exhausted. Often, you reach the point of extreme tiredness before your shift is over. That can be dangerous, because staying safe on the job requires mental and physical alertness.
Common Causes of Fatigue
There are many reasons construction workers may become exhausted, such as:
- Working too many hours
- Excess night work
- Lack of quality sleep
- Physically taxing job site conditions
- Pressure to meet deadlines
- Pressure from loved ones to maintain a traditional work schedule
How Employees Can Prevent Fatigue
It may be tempting to blame your employer for work policies that cause fatigue. Actually, you are responsible for your physical and mental well being. If your work environment or schedule is overly taxing and causing extreme tiredness, speak up. Your employer can’t change what he doesn’t know about. Additionally, keep an eye on your coworkers and step in if you notice signs of fatigue (sluggishness, dizziness, unusually accident-prone behavior or questionable decision-making.) Make sure to get at least seven hours of quality sleep, avoid excess alcohol and caffeine consumption, stay hydrated, and eat well-balanced meals.
How Employers Can Prevent Fatigue
Employees should take initiative to prevent overexertion. But employers need to take measures to prevent fatigue, too. The risk of on-the-job accidents soars when employees are fatigued and overworked. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, employers should:
- Offer frequent (every hour or two) rest breaks. The harsher the work environment, the longer the breaks should be.
- Allow adequate days off for workers who work overtime (two days off for working three 12-hour shifts, for example).
- Watch and listen. If your team appears sluggish or affected by extreme conditions, or complains about exhaustion, take them seriously. Extreme tiredness can have devastating implications, considering the powerful machinery and perilous work environments construction workers are subjected to.
Specific Dangers of Extreme Tiredness
Most construction work can be hazardous even when workers are feeling well rested. Fatigue increases the likelihood of accidents. Extreme tiredness is especially dangerous when a worker is driving, working on a scaffolding or ladder, operating cutting equipment, or working with flammable materials. When in doubt about an employee’s mental ability to safely perform a dangerous task, always err on the side of caution. The ramifications of getting a bit behind schedule pale in comparison to the ramifications of a devastating on-the-job accident.