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Fatigue is a BIG Problem

Studies show that up to 80% of workers suffer from fatigue, physical discomfort and pain on a daily basis.


It is estimated that 13% of workplace injuries can be attributed to fatigue, and 43% of Americans admit they may be too tired to function safely at work – 43%! It is important to recognize the symptoms of fatigue and its potential impact on each employee’s health and safety, as well as the safety of coworkers.

Fatigue is commonly described as extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness. Fatigue can be caused by factors outside of the workplace, as well as within it.

Whether fatigue is caused by a medical condition, lack of sleep, shift patterns or personal circumstances, fatigue is a health and safety risk that is often overlooked. To be competitive and maintain profitable bottom-lines, fatigue must be controlled by employers. Regulations require employers to assess the risks which arise from their operations and workplace, to ensure exposure to fatigue is reduced as much as is reasonably practicable.

What Causes Fatigue?

There are many potential causes of fatigue. Generally speaking they can be divided into these general categories:

Lifestyle Factors

  • Lack of sleep (<8 hours), or too much sleep (>10 hours)

  • Injury or illness

  • Physical exertion (weekend warriors)

  • Lack of physical activity (exercise)

  • Being overweight or obese

  • Periods of emotional stress

  • Boredom

  • Taking certain medications, such as antidepressants or sedatives, such as: Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, Xanax, Limbitrol, Valium, Ativan, Halcion, Lunesta, Sonata and Celexa

  • Consuming alcohol on a regular basis

  • Using illicit drugs, such as cocaine

  • Not eating a healthy, nutritious diet

Physical and Medical Health Conditions

Workplace Related Causes of Fatigue

  • Shift Work: The human body is designed to sleep during the night. This pattern is set by a small part of the brain known as the circadian clock. A shift worker confuses their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.

  • Poor Workplace Practices: These may include long work hours, hard physical labor, irregular working hours such as rotating shifts, a stressful work environment, excessive noise or temperature extremes, boredom, working alone with little or no interaction with others, or fixed concentration on a repetitive task.

  • Workplace Stress: Can be caused by a wide range of factors including: job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with managers, supervisors or co-workers, bullying, constant change, or threats to job security.

  • Burnout: Can be described as striving too hard in one area of life while neglecting everything else. Workaholics for example, put all their energies into their career, which puts their family life, social life and personal interests out of balance or out of reach.

  • Unemployment: Financial pressures, feelings of failure, guilt and the emotional exhaustion of prolonged job hunting also lead to stress, anxiety, depression and fatigue.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Studies suggest that psychological factors are present in at least 50% of fatigue cases.

  • Depression: This illness is characterized by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.

  • Anxiety and Stress: A person who is chronically anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, thus fatigue sets in.

  • Grief: Losing a pet or a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

  • Seasonal Affective Disorder: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons. SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year.


Accurate Ergonomics offers solutions designed to keep your workforce energized, healthy, safe and injury-free. Our integrated health, ergonomics and musculoskeletal injury prevention training system will help your employees reduce fatigue, discomfort, pain - and costly injuries.

In a separate blog post we discuss the symptoms of fatigue, as well as some tips to prevent fatigue.

Visit our website at, contact Accurate Ergonomics at 1.866.950.3746, or email

You’ll be glad you did - and so will your workforce and bottom line!


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The information contained in this post is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the date of this blog post. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This post is not a substitute for review of the current applicable government regulations and standards specific to your location and business activity, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

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