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The Hidden Costs of Workplace Fatigue (According to a Trucker)

Today’s post is from guest blogger Hank Barton.

Hank is a lifelong trucker/philosopher who enjoys sharing his thoughts on the trucking industry and careers in general with others online when he isn’t putting the miles behind him. He currently writes with eGears, an authority on CDL practice tests.

No matter what you do for a living, whether you juggle the inventory of a warehouse, attend a cash register, or sit at a desk responding to e-mails, inevitably you will have to deal with workplace fatigue. We put fatigue in terms that minimize the seriousness, such as “lapses of productivity” and “daydreaming.”  As a lifelong trucker, I know the consequences of fatigue can be extreme. They can extend not only to your personal well-being and success, but to your livelihood and those around you.

To lower fatigue-related accidents, legislators have taken action to reduce the maximum amount of time that truckers can operate within a work week. Despite being forced to undergo stricter standards than other drivers like fatigue management and rigorous CDL test standards, the impact of worker fatigue has seriously affected the trucker’s work week and salaries. The response hasn’t been positive.

Fatigue and “the big picture”

Fatigue can affect the health and wellness of yourself and others, including your job and if serious enough that could be legal ramifications. However, it can be difficult to manage fatigue. It can lead to poor decision making, reckless workplace habits, increased risks of injury, aggression or irritability, and potentially jeopardize your reputation and job. The symptoms of fatigue can affect us on a daily basis without us even knowing it.

For example, do you find yourself “snapping out” of a hazy state and realize that several seconds went by without your attention? Believe it or not, you probably were sleeping. For several seconds during a microsleep, a fatigued individual can slip into a state of sleep during an otherwise wakeful period of time. In the best of circumstances, an episode can be fairly harmless with minor complications like missing keys or documents. But behind the wheel of a 16-wheeler, microsleeps can have dire consequences.

How do I minimize the risks of fatigue at work?

There are several ways to cope with fatigue, both at home and at work. If you work a desk job, exercise can work wonders in improving your body’s efficiency and alertness. I take the opportunity to jog between fueling stops to shake off sluggishness. Yoga can also boost your circulation and feeling of focus with regular practice.

Staying hydrated and eating several healthy small meals (snacks) throughout the day can keep you feeling energized much better than slurping down colas or eating large meals.

And, of course, a regular and sufficient sleep schedule.

Those options may be difficult on a full-work schedule – so many workers use caffeine, which is an effective tool to combat fatigue. While it may serve as a patch, it can be habit-forming and could easily turn into a daily roller coaster of highs followed by inevitable lows. Caffeine can interfere with your body’s “inner clock,” and put you under constant stress, fatigue and even depression. But let’s be honest – it’s a habit many of us have, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Sometime fatigue comes from the job itself. If that’s the case then consider another shift or find a position that better suits your lifestyle. When fatigue becomes a daily struggle, it’s always better to find happiness and excel in a job that doesn’t push you past your limits.

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One thought on “The Hidden Costs of Workplace Fatigue (According to a Trucker)

  1. this article was exactly one of the reasons I created waist control fitness, an online/nutrition company that works with individuals that are too busy or just can’t make it to the gym. I wanted a way to get more productivity from my employees in my other companies. This training program helps employees that may be lethargic at work or even have some health issues that cause them to miss work get in better shape and not only perform better at work but are happy doing so. I have also had employees not only reach certain fitness goals while using this program at home but have had testimonials of employees advancing at work due to having more energy and fitting certain roles within the company. I hope more people take things like this serious, both employee and employer.

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