Managing risks

How to manage fatigue risks 

To manage the risks of fatigue in the workplace, you should: 

  • Identify hazards 

  • assess risks, if necessary 

  • control risks, and 

  • review hazards and control measures to ensure they’re working as planned. 

Identify hazards and assess risks 

Identifying the hazards that may cause fatigue in the workplace is an important first step. Ways to identify these hazards include: 

  • consulting workers, managers, supervisors and health and safety representatives – for example, about the impact of workloads. work schedules, work-related travel and work outside normal hours 

  • examining work practices, systems of work and worker records – for example, sign-in and sign-out sheets 

  • reviewing data – for example, workplace incident or human resource data. 

Once you have identified the hazards you can then assess the risks. This step may not be necessary if you are dealing with a known risk, with known controls.  

Control the risks 

You must eliminate the risk of fatigue in your workplace. If that is not reasonably practicable, you must minimise the risk as far as reasonably practicable. 

Examples of control measures to manage the risks of fatigue include: 

  • work scheduling – for example, schedule safety critical work outside the low body clock periods between 2am and 6am, and 2pm and 4pm 

  • modifying shift work and rosters – for example, restrict the number of successive night shifts (e.g. no more than three to four if possible) 

  • managing job demands – for example, structure shifts so work demands are highest in the middle of the shift and decrease towards the end 

  • change environmental conditions – for example, eliminate working in heat 

  • consult with workers about managing non-work related causes 

  • implement a workplace fatigue policy. 

Some control measures are more effective than others and you may need to implement a combination of controls to manage the risks of fatigue so far as is reasonably practicable.  

Review hazards and control measures  

Once control measures are implemented, they should be monitored and reviewed to make sure they remain effective. Consider implementing trial periods for any new work schedules and encouraging workers to provide feedback on their effectiveness. 

Information, instruction training and supervision  

You should provide information and training to workers about the causes of fatigue and the health and safety risks. Training will help workers to do their job, but also implement control measures to minimise the risk of fatigue in the workplace. 

Training about fatigue and relevant workplace policies should be arranged to ensure it is available to all workers and across all shifts. 

The Guide for managing the risk of fatigue at work includes practical information on managing fatigue and meeting your WHS duty.