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Be Awake To Fatigue Over Christmas Period

Health Workers Urged To Be Awake To Fatigue Over Christmas Period

ACC is reminding health practitioners and their managers to beware of fatigue as they work over the Christmas period, especially when driving to and from work.

“Fatigue can have a serious impact on all areas of a worker’s life,” ACC’s Health Programme Manager Darren Knight said. “It’s more than just being tired at the end of the day. Fatigue can seriously impact on a person’s ability to carry out mental and physical activities.

“Health professionals, especially nurses, are exposed to many of the factors that lead to fatigue, including a heavy workload, long hours and irregular shifts,” he said.

Fatigue can contribute to compromises in patient safety, but the health practitioners themselves are also at risk, especially as they drive home after finishing their shifts.

“One of the problems with fatigue is that often the fatigued person doesn’t realise it,” Mr Knight said. “So be watchful for signs of fatigue in co-workers too.”

“If you are blinking frequently or yawning, your thoughts are wandering and you can’t remember driving the last few kilometres, are unintentionally speeding up or slowing down, you could be fatigued and may be putting yourself and other road-users in danger.”

Employers and managers are required to do all they can to minimise fatigue in the workplace, just like any other hazard. That can be done by looking into how workflow is organised and scheduled, ensuring that breaks are taken, and that people don’t work on their own for long periods.

“Employers should also develop a Fatigue Management Plan and ensure that all employees are well aware of the dangers of fatigue, how to spot the signs and how to minimise it,” Darren Knight said. “The bottom line, however, is that the only cure for fatigue is sleep.”

There is more information for both employers and employees in the Injury Prevention area of ACC’s website, www.acc.co.nz.

ENDS

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