Everyone gets tired on the job sometimes. And this can take a toll on efficiency, productivity, and profits. But unlike with most office jobs, fatigue at a construction site is a major safety concern, too.
Staying alert, focused, aware of your surroundings, ready to react quickly, and compliant with all safety rules and regulations is essential to keeping yourself and all your coworkers safe around heavy equipment, machinery with moving parts, tools, loads in motion, large stacks of building materials, sharp objects, and all the other potential hazards at the job site.
And among so many obvious dangers, fatigue is a more subtle one that often gets overlooked. But it’s a common contributor to human error, which is at the root of so many construction accidents, injuries, and deaths.
Here are some important tips to prevent construction worker fatigue to help keep the job moving and to help keep everyone on site safe.
Reducing Your Risk of Construction Worker Fatigue
- Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night
- Start every workday with a nutritious, energizing breakfast that includes protein, whole grains, and some fruit
- Stay well hydrated by drinking water continually throughout the day when it’s hot or whenever you’re sweating
- Don’t rely on caffeinated beverages or energy drinks; they may get you going at first, but the energy spike is followed by a crash
- Have quick, healthy snacks instead for energy boosts, like some trail mix or an energy/protein bar made with nuts or whole grains
- Avoid alcohol at night before a workday, as it interferes with a good night’s sleep and leaves you feeling depleted the next day
Tips for Employers to Prevent Construction Worker Fatigue
- Do not set unrealistic productivity expectations that push the crew too hard
- Make sure adequate break times are scheduled in
- Vary each worker’s activities to prevent extended periods of physically demanding, highly focused, or repetitive work, or operating the same machine for too long
- Provide regular opportunities for all crew to cool off or warm up during hot or cold weather
- Give individual workers regular schedules, rather than making someone work rotating shifts at different times of day and night
- Make sure job sites are well lit in the evenings and early mornings
- Educate management and workers about the signs, dangers, and preventive measures of worker fatigue
- Have on-site managers monitor workers for signs of fatigue
Signs of Construction Worker Fatigue
Here are some of the most common signs to watch out for in yourself or others:
- Repeated yawning
- Nodding off at work
- Inability to concentrate
- Loss of strength or stamina
- Slowing reflexes or reaction times
- Declining productivity
- Difficulty communicating
- Showing poor judgment or decision-making
- Needing frequent breaks
- Headaches or feeling lightheaded
- Blurry vision