Managing fatigue, Dr Tom video, Working alone, Injuries rising

Fiona’s blog: Fatigue – rule of thumb for knowing what’s enough sleep

As a rule of thumb:

  • People need at least 6 hours sleep a night, but 7-8 hours is better
  • A worker will be at risk of fatigue if they have had:
    • Less than 5 hours sleep in the last 24 hours
    • Less than 12 hours sleep in the last 48 hours.

That guidance comes from Australian fatigue expert Professor Drew Dawson, who’s been in New Zealand talking about fatigue and work. Fatigue is caused by lack of sleep and the only cure is to have more sleep, Prof. Dawson says.

So employers need to make sure workers get the opportunity to have enough sleep each night – which includes allowing for things like travel time, family time and time to wind down after a big day.

Employees need to tell their boss if they haven’t had enough sleep to be able to work safely. So what’s enough sleep? That’s where Prof. Dawson’s rule of thumb provides some guidance.

People need at least 6 hours sleep a night, but 7-8 hours is better to stay healthy. Someone is likely to be fatigued if they have had less than 5 hours sleep in the last 24 hours and less than 12 hours sleep in the last 48 hours. That means they have a higher risk of making mistakes and having an accident at work.

Whether workers will report that they’re fatigued largely depends on how they expect their boss to respond, Prof. Dawson says. If they expect the boss to react badly they might be reluctant to speak up.

If someone turns up for work without having enough sleep, the risk of fatigue can be managed, he says.

Depending on how fatigued the worker is, ways to manage this risk include:

  • Notifying co-workers and supervisors so they can keep an eye on the worker; using task rotation; allowing the worker to self-pace their workload.
  • Increasing supervision; re-assigning the worker to lower risk tasks.
  • Allowing the worker to catch up on sleep by coming in a bit later or taking a nap at work.

Dr Tom workshops – watch this video to get a taste of what he’ll talk about

Our first Dr Tom health workshops are running in Gisborne and Napier next week.

You can get a taste of what Dr Tom will talk about from watching this short video that explains the great work he’s doing to help people working in forestry improve their physical and mental health.

Everyone working in forestry is invited to these free workshops, that are on around the country in June and July.

Watch the video

See more about the workshops and rsvp to attend

Working alone

In forestry people sometimes have to work alone. Here’s a summary of the key things that need to be in place to make sure people can work safely on their own. Share this with teams to remind people how to stay safe.

Tell someone exactly where you’re working and what you are doing

  • Always have a two-way communication method with your check-in person.
  • Don’t change location without updating them on where you’re going and what you’re doing.
  • Plan your work. If anything looks wrong, stop working immediately – help could be a long way off.

Have agreed check-in procedures – and stick to them

  • Check in exactly when you say you will – maybe when you refuel your chainsaw, maybe every hour. Always check in at the end of the day.
  • If you’re the check-in person, set up an alarm or notification system to keep track of check-in times. Or have a system that goes off if the person working alone doesn’t check in. Know what to do if there’s no response.
  • If constant radio contact isn’t possible, fallers should always have an observer with them.
  • Consider using personal locator beacons and ‘man-down’ technology.

Know what to do in an emergency

  • Have a current first aid certificate and always carry a personal first aid kit.
  • Make sure someone is close enough to help quickly if someone calls for help.
  • Know exactly where you are so you can give clear co-ordinates to emergency services.

Rising injury rates

Our latest How are we tracking? dashboard shows a worrying rise in injury rates.

We are talking to WorkSafe to try to find out more about what’s behind that rise, and if it relates to particular risks.

We’ll come back to the industry with more information when we have it.

View the How Are We Tracking? dashboard

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