Sometimes, you may be required to work a demanding schedule with longer than normal shifts. OSHA defines a normal work shift as a period of eight consecutive hours during the day, five days a week with at least an eight-hour rest period. Any shift incorporating longer hours, more consecutive days or evening hours is extended or unusual. Use the following tips to prepare yourself if the nature of your job or emergency situations require you to work extended hours or unusual shifts.
Be Prepared to Identify the Symptoms of Fatigue.
Fatigue is a condition brought on by mental, physical or emotional stress. Over time, sleep deprivation will lead to fatigue, which is especially prominent in night workers. It is important to recognize the following signs of fatigue:
- Lack of motivation
- Reduced alertness, lack of concentration and memory lapse
More subtle signs of long-term fatigue include the following:
- Increased susceptibility to illness
- Loss of appetite and digestive problems
Know How to Stay Safe and Fight Fatigue.
- Take additional break periods and meals during extended shifts to increase productivity and alertness, and reduce the risk of injury.
- Perform tasks that require heavy physical labor or intense concentration at the beginning of the extended or unusual shift, if possible.
- When you go into a shift feeling fatigued, plan for regular, frequent breaks throughout the shift to move about and shift concentration. During breaks, rest in a quiet, secluded area to recuperate.
- If you must work an extended shift, check with your supervisor to ensure you are not being exposed to dangerous amounts of hazardous chemicals or materials for prolonged periods.