Workplace warning: Prevent fatigue in rush to Christmas

Businesses warned not to take shortcuts with health and safety in the lead-up to Christmas

December 13, 2011

Queensland businesses are being warned not to take shortcuts with health and safety in the lead-up to Christmas, including exposing workers to fatigue.

Industrial Relations Minister Cameron Dick today urged businesses to work with their employees to manage fatigue inside and outside of work. He says long hours on the job can impair workers’ ability to think clearly when making safety-related decisions.

"Many workplaces, including retailers, road transport companies, tradespeople and manufacturers, are at their busiest at this time of year and staff are working long hours to complete jobs before the holidays start," Dick says.

"Studies have shown that people who stay awake for 17 hours can impair performance as badly as if they were driving over the legal blood alcohol limit of 0.05 percent."

Dick reminded employers of their obligation to protect their workers from the effects of fatigue and says employees also bear a responsibility.

"Workers must ensure they are fit for duty and should raise any concerns about workloads and work pressures such as deadlines with their supervisor or workplace health and safety officer or representative," he says.

"Common effects associated with fatigue include lack of concentration, poor judgment and decision-making, reduced capacity for interpersonal communication and slower reaction times."

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