As a rule of thumb:
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:
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.
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.
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.