We have all felt the unproductive effects of stress or fatigue on our work. For most of us it seems ‘common sense’, that our work quality and productivity will be compromised if we are feeling stressed that day, but what are companies doing to combat this? Do they even recognize the problem?
Safety and Health Agencies in the UK and New Zealand have compiled research, issuing statements and guidelines for combating stress and fatigue in the workplace.
The New Zealand Occupational Safety and Health Service (OSH) says that working for long periods without sleep can leave workers so fatigued that it has the same effects as drinking on the job. OSH originally published a guide for employers on stress and fatigue in 1998. They are currently reviewing the guide with specific attention to stress and fatigue in two working situations.
The first situation is work that inherently contains situations or circumstances that are difficult to cope with. This may include healthcare workers, the police or social workers. The second situation is work that does not inherently contain stressful factors but is organized in such a way that coping may be difficult.
In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published a comprehensive guide on preventing work-related stress. In the UK stress-related illness is responsible for the loss of 6.5 million working days each year, costing employers around