Fatigue Conversations Guide

Good conversations are one of the best weapons to understand and fight against fatigue risk in your workplace. They demonstrate your commitment to safety and the well-being of your team. They also help you to make good decisions about what to do next. Fatigue conversations are needed when someone reports that they feel too tired to work or raises a concern about fatigue at work.

Golden Rule: Listen and let them do most of the talking

  1. Be prepared – Consider in advance how you will approach this type of conversation.  Use our fatigue conversation preparation worksheet (requires SPARK login) to help.
  2. Stay calm and positive – If you don’t like what you hear, or it creates work or stress for you it can be hard to hide.  But showing negative emotions can discourage people from being honest in the conversation and reporting in future, so avoid this.
  3. Approach the conversation with an open mind, try not to judge the individual or the situation before you have listened.
  4. Demonstrate care for safety e.g. ‘I appreciate you reporting this’.
  5. Demonstrate care for the individual e.g. ‘It must have been difficult coming to work when you felt like this.’
  6. Keep asking OPEN questions to fully understand the situation.  Open questions start with the words ‘What…?’, ‘How…?’, ‘When…?’, ‘Why…?’, ‘Where…?’, ‘Who…?’. or phrases like ‘Tell me…’, ‘Describe to me…’
  7. Be respectful of the individual’s private life.
  8. Try to understand the cause of the fatigue and explore solutions together.  Ask the individual what they can do themselves to avoid fatigue in future, what you can do to support them, and what the company can learn from the situation.  This might need to happen at a later time if someone is unable to carry out their duties due to fatigue and you need to quickly make arrangements to cover them.
  9. Manage the individual’s expectations about any changes that they suggest. Be realistic about how feasible the changes are and how quickly any changes are likely to be implemented.
  10. Reassure the individual that the issue will be treated confidentially within company policy. Let them know that only the people who need to know about it will be informed.

Click here (requires SPARK login) to download a copy of this guide. You can also use our fatigue conversation preparation worksheet (requires SPARK login) to plan how you could approach a fatigue conversation.

Log in or register to keep reading
Register for free individual access
  • Unlock research, articles and more
  • Get updates on RSSB’s activities





Need some help?
To talk to us about accessing RSSB content or corporate membership:
Cookies help us improve your website experience.
By using our website, you agree to our use of cookies.