Causes and Effect of Fatigue

PSYCH-105 Industrial Psychology

Chapter 12: Fatigue and Boredom

Unit 1

Unit 2

Unit 3

Unit 4


Causes of Fatigue

Fatigue can be caused by work-related factors, factors outside work and/or a combination of both, and may accumulate over time.

Work-related factors

  1. Roster patterns
  2. Length and timing of shifts (e.g. Night shift)
  3. Poor work scheduling and planning
  4. Length of time worked / a lot of working hours
  5. Speed of work 
  6. Insufficient recovery time between shifts
  7. Long periods of time awake
  8. Inadequate rest breaks
  9. Mentally or physically demanding work (under-demand/over-demand)
  10. Inadequate and inefficient tools 
  11. Work place layout (space, design of machines)
  12. Effect of noise
  13. Lack of light
  14. Lack of training
  15. Harsh environmental conditions
  16. Temperature and ventilation
  17. Unhealthy atmosphere 
  18. Training of employee

Factors outside work

  1. Poor quality of sleep
  2. Sleep loss
  3. Sleep disorders like sleep apnea
  4. Low morale
  5. Lack of motivation 
  6. Lack of proper diet (e.g. Lack of iron leads to anemia and / or excessive consumption of alcohol)
  7. Social life
  8. Family needs
  9. Other employment
  10. Travel time
  11. Excessive stress and tension 
  12. Medical problems (like liver infection, low blood sugar, obesity, heart problems and diabetes etc)

Effect of Fatigue

The effects of fatigue on health and work performance can be short term and long term. Short-term effects on an individual include impaired work performance, such as the reduced ability to:

  • Concentrate and avoid distraction
  • Think laterally and analytically
  • Make decisions
  • Remember and recall events and their sequences
  • Maintain vigilance
  • Control emotions
  • Appreciate complex situations
  • Recognize risks
  • Coordinate hand-eye movements, and
  • Communicate effectively.

Fatigue can also:

  • Increase error rates
  • Slow reaction times
  • Increase the likelihood of accidents and injuries
  • Cause micro-sleeps
  • Loss of production 
  • Wastage of raw material
  • Quality of work deteriorates 
  • Absenteeism increases 
  • Employees attrition increases 

Long-term effects on health that are associated with shift work and chronic sleep loss may include:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Depression, and
  • Anxiety.

Author – Dr. Niyati Garg

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