Fatigue Management toolbox talk

A simple, 5 minute outline of what to cover in a toolbox talk on Fatigue Management.

Fatigue is a state of mental or physical exhaustion that reduces your ability work safely and effectively. Fatigue can be work related or non-work related or a combination of both and can build up over time. This can lead to workplace incidents and injuries.

Why run a Fatigue Management Toolbox Talk?

  • Who’s responsible for fatigue management
  • Signs of fatigue
  • Causes of fatigue
  • How to manage fatigue

Who’s Responsible for Fatigue Management

Both employers and employees are responsible for managing fatigue. Worker engagement on this issue is a good way to raise concerns, make suggestions and ask questions.

Signs of fatigue

The effects of fatigue can be short term, or they could be long term (burnout). Signs a person may be experiencing fatigue are:

  • Short-term memory problems and finding it hard to concentrate
  • Poor decision making or errors in judgment
  • Reduced hand-eye coordination or slow reflexes
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble solving problems
  • Job performance is affected
  • Trouble focusing
  • Unable to recall last thought or conversation

Causes of Fatigue

  • Shift work
  • Working long hours
  • Sleep disruption
  • Environmental factors – climate
  • Physical work factors – using tools that vibrate and type of work i.e. heavy labour
  • Repetitive work
  • Mental work demands -  tasks that require intense concentration,  regular criticism, or pressure to meet deadlines
  • Excessive commuting 
  • Non-work related events – separation of a partner, loss of a loved one

How to Manage Fatigue

Some ways to manage fatigue are:

  • Appropriate rest breaks
  • Using machinery to assist with tasks – where appropriate
  • Appropriate human resources
  • Avoid working in extreme climate
  • Drink enough fluids to maintain hydration
  • Job rotations
  • Ensure you regularly get 7-8 hours’ sleep before starting work
  • Do not rely on stimulants – coffee and nicotine only provide a temporary boost
  • Diet - Eat a balanced diet with foods that provide slow release energy (e.g. wholegrains)

Key takeaways:

  • Fatigue is a hazard in the workplace
  • Look after yourself
  • Engage with your work colleagues and employers 

New Zealand Resources:



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