More Coffee Won’t Solve This

May 5th 2020
By: Carrie Whitfield

The “new norm” for most seems to be working varied hours and more of them. For many I know, a not so obvious impact of this change, has been fatigue.

Fatigue is something that affects everyone at some point. If you battle fatigue with anything but rest and sleep, eventually you will lose. More than 40% of the American workforce is chronically sleep deprived. That was before the “new norm”. I am curious as to what the numbers are currently, but I don’t need statistics to tell me that many folks I know are experiencing fatigue.

The inability to sleep can be brought on by quite a few underlying causes. Global pandemics currently rank high on my list. Personal and work stressors, heat or cold exposure, ongoing health issues, diet, exercise and environmental factors are good examples of some common contributing causes.

How do we know when we’re fatigued? It could be signs as obvious as yawning, heavy eyelids and the classic “I need coffee now” feeling. It might, however, not be so obvious. Less obvious symptoms could be a lowered immune system, elevated frustration and stress levels, lack of focus, not clearly communicating or simply having a snippy attitude. My best advice is to recognize these are strange times for many, probably everyone, and self-evaluation is critical.

Don’t stop with self-evaluation. Watch out for your friends, family and coworkers the best that you can, even from a distance. You know how they normally act. You know their typical “everything is ok” attitude. Don’t be afraid to gently point out when you notice potentially unhealthy changes. This really isn’t any different than deciding to stop a job on a site if you see something unsafe. Mind your approach, but do watch out for, and listen to, each other.

Being too tired is kind of like being crazy. You are rarely the person that notices your own craziness and it’s awfully helpful if someone else points it out. We all know not everyone likes being told they are being cranky (or crazy). Whether you like their opinion or not, it’s always worth listening. I trust my coworkers and others in my life to be watching out for my wellbeing. In mentally, and sometimes physically, challenging times it’s even more important to watch out for each other. “See something, say something” always applies no matter where you are working from.

OSHA states that in 2018 roughly 13% of workplace injuries may be attributed to fatigue. In America, that’s roughly 438 non-fatal accidents every year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving contributed to 91,000 vehicle crashes in the United States in 2017 alone. Be awake, be aware and watch out for each other.

To learn more about fatigue and how you can mitigate it, please follow the link below.
https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/workerfatigue/prevention.html