Construction Management: Managing Worker Fatigue

The construction industry often puts workers in high-risk activities. To meet the challenges, they face on the job site safely, construction workers must be mentally alert and physically in top shape. When they are not, when they suffer from fatigue, they are at an increased risk of a construction site accident. Accordingly, employers, as well as employees, need to manage fatigue on the construction site,

What Is Fatigue?

Simply put, fatigue is the state of physical or mental exhaustion. Its causes vary from workers being out of shape to personnel working extra shifts for overtime pay. Fatigue is a big deal on construction sites as workers who are physically or mentally fatigued cannot do their jobs safely – making safety an issue for fatigued employees.

Fatigue causes:

  • An absence of alertness that leads to errors and on-site injuries and incidents
  • The inability to make cognitive decisions. In turn, this may lead to a lessened ability for an operator to work with his or her equipment safely
  • A marked loss of the ability to concentrate – this may be described as mental fogginess or forgetfulness.

Signs of Worker Fatigue

In the construction industry, it is essential that project managers, shift supervisors, and foremen know the following warning signs of fatigue that may include:

  • Disproportionate yawning or falling asleep at work
  • Lack of concentration and short-term memory problems
  • Difficulties when communicating with others
  • Poor judgment and decision-making
  • Slow reflexes or reduced hand-eye coordination
  • Changes in behavior such as repeated instances of being late for work
  • Increased absenteeism

Other symptoms include feeling drowsy, frequent headaches, dizziness, and blurred vision.

Construction has one of the highest injury and fatality rates of all industries in the United States. Accordingly, for construction companies seeking to lower their risk of a workplace injury or fatality, it is the responsibility of the management team to be aware of and manage fatigue.

Managing Worker Fatigue

There is a myriad of things that construction managers can do to keep fatigue at a minimum. They include:

Work Schedules – When we work long hours, or hours that are irregular or work at night we more readily can succumb to fatigue. Work patterns such as these call for limitations on the amount of time spent working. Workers need sufficient time to recover physical strength and mental agility.

Environmental Conditions – When environmental factors (such as weather) are extreme, work shifts should be shortened. Extreme cold and extreme heat sap energy and tire workers physically and mentally. Ample rest periods should be scheduled so that workers can shelter from the weather before returning to work.

Physical and Cognitive Work Demands – We all know that construction work can be physically draining and can cause fatigue, but, long periods of concentration (such as welding) is also extremely tiring and should be considered when scheduling workers on construction sites.

Assignar Construction Management Software

Assignar is a Software as a Service (SaaS) for the construction industry and other business’ that are highly regulated.

Assignar allows managers to schedule employees according to project conditions and allows for managers to schedule employees according to the project and site conditions, including worker’s fatigue.

It gets the right workers paired up with the right equipment to get projects completed as scheduled. It also keeps track of hours worked, equipment maintenance, and much more. All the data needed to determine workforce productivity and project profit and loss are easily retrievable using Assignar.

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Compliance, Health & Safety, Workforce Management