Fatigue Strategic Management

Safety and productivity in the workplace are intimately related to worker health. A workplace may have chemical, physical, biological, and psychosocial hazards that have the potential to impact physical and psychological well-being. How these hazards are managed in the workplace is key. A workplace in which these hazards are well controlled, with an active culture of health and a supportive work environment, can enhance worker health and well-being, both on and off the job. Healthier employees result in fewer health claims, better safety records, and greater productivity.

Well-rested, alert employees are critical to safe and productive operations. Virtually everyone experiences some level of fatigue from time to time. However, excessive fatigue while working is an important condition in which the interrelationship of health, safety, and productivity can create a vicious or virtuous cycle. Specific medical and lifestyle interventions have been shown to promote a well-rested and alert workforce. In addition, specific factors in the organization of work have been shown to promote either alertness or fatigue.

Because of the potential impact of fatigue on health, safety, and productivity, any organization in which individuals work extended hours or hours during which people typically sleep can benefit from addressing fatigue in the workplace. This is particularly important for safety-sensitive operations such as the transportation, health care, and energy industries.


Occupational and environmental medicine (OEM) physicians, whether directly employed by or serving as a consultants to an organization, have an important role to play in fatigue risk management. Where no program is currently in place, OEM physicians can and should advise management of the opportunities to enhance health, safety, and productivity through the development of a fatigue risk management system (FRMS). Where an FRMS is in place or under development, OEM physicians can and should play an active role in its development, implementation, and sustainability.


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Dr. Albadry