Know the Dangers and Signs of Fatigue on the Jobsite


The physical demands and deadline-focused nature of construction work often lead to overwork and fatigue. Add in additional stress over the pandemic and its fallout, and many in home building are finding themselves sleeping less and prone to fatigue.

The effects of fatigue are far-reaching and can have an adverse impact on all areas of our lives, especially on construction sites with so many safety hazards.

According to research by the National Safety Council, more than 43% of American workers are sleep-deprived, and those most at risk work the night shift, long shifts or irregular shifts. The NSC notes that safety performance decreases as workers become tired.

Adults need an average of seven to nine hours of sleep each night, but 30% report averaging less than six hours, according to the National Health Interview Survey conducted by NSC. Among other findings:

Keys to a Good Night’s Sleep

All workers should set themselves up for sleep success by following these basic guidelines:
  • Don’t eat big meals close to bedtime, as this can affect your sleep quality; have dinner several hours before bed each night.
  • Avoid exercise in close proximity to bedtime; regular exercise generally improves sleep, but not if you do it near bedtime.
  • Avoid chemicals that affect sleep; caffeine, nicotine and alcohol can all contribute to sleep problems.
  • Make your bedroom conducive to sleep; a quiet, dark room that is not too hot and not too cold will help you relax and get to sleep sooner.
  • Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine and stick to it.
  • Avoid stressful activities, especially before bed, so you don’t associate your bedroom and sleeping with anxiety.

If you have daytime sleepiness or your bed partner witnesses snoring or breathing pauses, you may have sleep apnea and should see a sleep specialist. Employers and site managers can also help keep their workers from becoming fatigued, like setting regular schedules for workers with adequate breaks, allowing napping when needed and feasible, providing transportation to and from the site when necessary, and discussing the importance of sleep with workers and subcontractors.

We live in very stressful times and sleep is suffering for many of us. But we shouldn’t make our jobsites less safe due to fatigue. Focus on getting plenty of sleep every night and work safely. For any questions about NAHB safety programs, contact Christian Culligan.

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