Editor, SHP

Author Bio ▼

Ian joined Informa (formerly UBM) in 2018 as the Editor of SHP. Ian studied journalism at university before spending seven years in online fantasy gaming. Prior to moving to Informa, Ian worked in business to business trade print media, in the automotive sector. He was Online Editor and then moved on to be the Editor of two publications aimed at independent automotive technicians and parts distributors.
May 20, 2021

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Tackling fatigue in staff

SHP speaks to Marcus de Guingand, Managing Director at Third Pillar of Health Ltd, who talks about how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted worker fatigue and provides some tips to guard against it as staff return to work.

How has the pandemic affected people’s sleep patterns, has there been any evidence that people are struggling to shut off and, as a result, working longer and later hours as a result of being permanently stationed at home?

Marcus de Guingand (MdG): “We’ve seen the pandemic affect people in so many different ways. On the negative side disruption to routines, increased anxiety and the blurred boundaries between work and home life have negatively affected many people. With the additional pressures many faced, especially early in the pandemic – such as home schooling, we often saw extended work hours and I think this has carried in to more recent times as a ‘new normal’ as expectations from bosses and colleagues have shifted.

“Eliminating the commute has worked for some but not others. Whilst for some it has increased the sleep window and therefore the opportunity to obtain sufficient good quality sleep for others it may have been their primary form of exercise as well as the barrier they need to shut off from the working day.

“We have seen, from results to our sleep health self-assessment, that where an organisation has a supportive culture for those working from home that actually there have been positive outcomes for sleep. Shift workers and those who have had to go to work have tended to show poorer outcomes in terms of sleep and fatigue.”

What challenges do organisations face as employees return to the workplace, in some case for the first time in more than a year, in regard to things like lethargy, lack of awareness of workplaces hazards and change in sleep patterns in order to account for a commute?

(MdG): “Industries like construction have spent months looking at safe return to work protocols and most construction sites have been open for a while. We do however need to be mindful of those returning to working environments with more hazards where they have been away for some time.

“All these organisations need to think about changing sleep patterns. Sleep is intrinsically linked to alertness and safety. If we are well-rested we are less likely to make errors and we are more alert to avoiding hazards as they arise.

“Again, the commute will be a blessing for some but a curse for others. Where workers typically drive long distances as part of their commute, I would encourage firms to think about how a return to work might impact on drowsy driving.”

What are your three top tips for addressing fatigue within an organisation?

(MdG): “My top three tips for addressing fatigue in an organisation include:

“Don’t assume the measures you are taking now actually tackle fatigue.

“Don’t think there is a single silver bullet – fatigue is much more of a combined approach and process.

“Measure and monitor fatigue – including worker assessment but also accidents and incidents, which need to be investigated with fatigue in mind. Has someone used the wrong equipment because they are too tired to get the right kit for the job?”

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