Employers Need to Address Workplace Fatigue

Professional burnout is affecting a wide range of jobs, workplaces and industries, and there is no standard definition or management practice in place to address this issue. That’s the key finding from CSA Group‘s latest research report Workplace Fatigue: Current Landscape and Future Considerations.

In 2019, for the first time, the World Health Organization recognized burnout as a medical diagnosis. However, without a standard definition of what workplace fatigue means in Canada, it’s difficult to say how pervasive the problem is.

“Our research has identified that there is certainly an opportunity for standards that address workplace fatigue to make a real and positive difference to workers in this country,” said Mary Cianchetti, President of Standards, CSA Group. “What we’ve found is there is a need to support the management of workplace fatigue in Canada for the health and safety of Canadian workers.”

Several jurisdictions, including Australia, the United States (US) and South Africa have conducted reviews on legislation and best practices related to workplace fatigue. Some Canadian federal, provincial or territorial regulations related to fatigue have also been developed. Regulated industries in Canada (e.g. motor carriers, aviation, rail, marine and nuclear) have more comprehensive guidance on workplace fatigue than non-regulated industries.

Approaches for Managing Workplace Fatigue

Few companies have published or shared details of their fatigue management approaches, resulting in a dearth of research on the efficacy of fatigue risk management initiatives. The practices currently in use in Canada can be grouped into three types of approaches:

  • Prescriptive Rules (e.g. hours of service rules/restrictions);
  • Tactical Approaches (e.g. short duration initiatives that may be part of a larger strategy);
  • Strategic Approaches (e.g. Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS), Fatigue Risk Management Plans, or Fatigue Management Programs that consist of several tactics).

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