The ever-evolving COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us, in one way or another. Some have directly contracted the virus and had to deal with its difficult symptoms, while others have tragically lost friends or family members to this terrible infection. Others have been less directly affected, but have still seen their lives change in some big ways.
As lockdowns and quarantines have been introduced, millions of people have been forced to adapt to a new kind of life, often working from home or not being able to work at all. However, there are several lines of work that have actually become even more intense during COVID-19, leading to rises in worker fatigue and increased risk of associated injuries.
Naturally, as workers become more tired and have less time to recharge with much-needed rest, their concentration levels, reaction times, and general focus can start to drop, potentially leading to workplace injuries, rising stress levels, a weakened immune system, and other issues. Let’s take a look at some actions that both employers and workers can take to reduce the risk of fatigue and deal with it more effectively.
Rules And Regulations
Firstly, all employees should be aware of any workplace rules and regulations, as well as possible state or federal laws that serve to protect their health and reduce the risks associated with fatigue. Trucking regulations for dealing with driver fatigue have been introduced, for example, that aim to prevent truckers from being made to work excessively long shifts.
Employees should know their rights and ensure that they aren’t being treated unfairly or made to engage in any activity that might go against rules or regulations that have been put in place to protect them. Employers should also be aware of these rules and enforce them at all costs, even perhaps incorporating new rules of their own to protect their workers.
Improve Sleep Quality
One way for workers to reduce the risks of fatigue is to ensure that they get a good rest each night. Unfortunately, issues like stress and anxiety, particularly in these troubled times, can make it so difficult to get the recommended eight hours of sleep you need each night for a happy and healthy life, and more and more people have been dealing with sleep disorders in recent weeks and months.
Fortunately, there are ways to improve your sleep quality or maximize the amount of sleep you get. Investing in a good quality mattress is a great start, and making sure you have comfortable bedding can help too. It’s also wise to avoid phones and screens before bed, perhaps considering relaxing activities like reading or gentle breathing exercises to help you drift off more easily.
Keep An Eye Out
This tip applies to both employers and employees and can help to create a safer workspace for all. Employers should keep a closer eye on their workers during these difficult times, looking out for clear signs of fatigue like yawning, difficulty concentrating, workers whose eyes seem to keep closing, and reduced productivity levels or increased mistakes.
Employees should also monitor their own behavior, as well as the behavior of their colleagues, in order to help each other out. Watch for the signs of tiredness listed above and take action if you feel that yourself or a colleague is simply too tired to work. Fatigue-related incidents or accidents should be reported immediately, and an overly tired worker should be given a break to recuperate.
Foster An Environment Of Trust
During these difficult times, employers must understand that their workers are dealing with difficult conditions, the likes of which have never been seen before. It’s a new and scary experience for all of us, so it’s only natural that anxiety levels are rising and stress levels have never been so high.
In order to encourage your workers to feel more comfortable and relaxed, as well as helping them feel like they can come to you if they’re dealing with fatigue or need a break, it’s wise to create a trusting, welcoming atmosphere at work. If employees feel scared of their managers or bosses, they may try to hide their fatigue until it’s too late, potentially leading to serious incidents in the workplace.
One of the best ways for employers to help workers get through the coronavirus crisis while still maintaining sufficient productivity levels is to take a look at shift schedules and make some changes to maximize efficiency in all areas. Introducing rotating shift patterns could be a way to give workers the rest they need each week without harming your company’s output.
Set aside some time to develop a shift system that works for everyone, trying to avoid excessively long shifts (12 hours or more) for each worker and providing them with enough time to rest up in between shifts. Incorporate regular breaks into the daily routine or perhaps even make arrangements for local offsite housing for workers who are required on a regular basis and have to make long-distance commutes.
These are difficult times for millions of people across the world, and it’s no surprise that the number of fatigue-related incidents has been rising. The duties of key and essential workers are vital for keeping society and the economy moving, but the well-being of these workers is absolutely vital too, and there are clearly plenty of steps both workers and employers can take in order to reduce the risks of tiredness and all the problems that come along with it.
Follow these top tips to make your workplace a safer place for everyone, and above all else, remember that we’re all in this together. A little empathy can go a long way during this challenging period, and if workers and managers start looking out for one another a little more, the likelihood of any incidents occurring will decrease enormously. Not only that, but your workplace will become a better place to be, lowering stress levels and improving morale across the board.