Fatigue and You

To do your job safely and efficiently, you need to be awake and alert. The effects of fatigue are comparable to being over the drink driving limit for alcohol. Fatigue causes accidents. Long-term exposure to fatigue is also bad for our physical and mental health. Your fatigue can impact you, your livelihood, your family, colleagues and others.


Your role in managing fatigue

Fatigue can't be managed properly unless everybody plays their part; employers and employees share the responsibility of managing fatigue risk. Your role is to: 


People in some roles have additional responsibilities for managing fatigue. Other sections of our website cover the responsibilities to do with supervision and line management, planning and rosteringincident investigation, and setting up and running fatigue risk management systems.
If you drive a road vehicle to or from work, or if you drive for work, then you should see our work on fatigue and road driving.

5 things you can do to proactively manage fatigue

  1. Use this fatigue self-check (requires SPARK login) to help you think about how you manage your fatigue. Follow the advice on this site and the advice from your company on managing fatigue. Remember, if you work shifts your body will need you to pay extra attention to your sleep, what you eat and when, and your overall health.
  2. Before you start doing anything safety critical (including driving on the roads) ask yourself if you are suffering from fatigue, or if you might start suffering soon. Use our guide (requires SPARK login) to help you.
  3. Be on the lookout for your own fatigue, especially if you are doing something safety critical. This includes when you are going to drive on the roads.
  4. Take all the breaks from work that are available to you to stop the build-up of physical and mental fatigue. Breaks are there to protect and enhance your working experience.
  5. When your company or your union ask you about changes at work, think about how those changes might affect your fatigue, and give them feedback. Your company can’t manage fatigue if it doesn’t know what the problem is or how big it is.

It is more professional to report fatigue, than to ignore it and have a fatigue-related incident.

Follow your company procedures to report fatigue. For example, you may be worried about a new work pattern causing fatigue. You may have changes at home that could cause you fatigue. You may be worried about other people suffering from fatigue. If you don’t know where to find your company’s procedures on fatigue, ask your line manager. 
If you don’t feel comfortable raising fatigue concerns with your managers, your trades union can act on your behalf, so raise it with them. You can also report your concerns via CIRAS the confidential incident reporting and analysis service. But if you have any concerns that need immediate action, report it within your own company.
Don’t ignore or hide the problem. No matter what, it’s important that you discuss your fatigue concerns with someone.

Did you know?

Fatigue is:

Fatigue is a word that we use to describe feeling tired and worn out. It includes sleepiness, but it also includes other kinds of mental and physical tiredness. Watch 'What is fatigue?' video.

17 hours:

People who have been awake this long start to make mistakes like people who are drunk. If shift workers don't have a nap when changing from day shifts or rest days to nights, they can become extremely tired and that can be dangerous. Play this 5 minute game to test your alertness.

6 hours:

Getting less than this much sleep in every 24 hours can mean we run out of sleep in our 'tank' quickly, and fall asleep. Most people need 7-9 hours. Watch 'Sleep & body clock' video.

Work life and home life:

Fatigue is caused by a range of things, some to do with our home life and some to do with our work life. Our overall health and wellbeing can affect fatigue. Watch 'Fatigue causes' video.


Our body clock is programmed to make us feel more alert during the day and sleepy at night. This is one of the reasons why shift work is difficult. Watch 'Shift work & fatigue' video.

What can i do about it?

There are practical things that you can do to reduce your chances of suffering from fatigue, to prepare for, and cope with night shifts. Read our guidance to find out what you can do. Read 'Feeling tired?' article.


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