Firms must guard against Staff Fatigue as fines for Corporate Manslaughter escalate...

Firms must guard against Staff Fatigue as fines for Corporate Manslaughter escalate to £20m, says Imperago

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Exhausted staff members? You could be held to be legally responsible.

Staff fatigue is an issue that must be tackled. Most organisations will benefit with more efficient operations and a more engaged workforce.

New sentencing guidelines means that employers must be even more careful about staff fatigue.

Imperago has published a paper outlining the importance of taking staff fatigue into account when devising staff workpatterns.

While there are many lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue, so too can work related factors like time of working and restperiods, length and number of consecutive work duties and intensity of work demands.

Rob Ayers, Group Customer Account Manager at Imperago explained; “Many organisations with complex 24/7 shift and rostering operations have built up work patterns over the years. Rarely do these working patterns get reviewed to ensure they meet the business’ current needs, if they’re the most efficient, and crucially, if they safeguard against staff fatigue.”

Fatigue increases the likelihood of errors and adversely hits performance (HSE booklet HSG256, Managing shift work – health and safety guidance) especially in tasks requiring vigilance and monitoring, decision making, fast reaction time, and memory. Fatigued staff often don’t adequately perceive risk and may tolerate risks they’d usually find unacceptable.

Ayers continues; “While many software systems can devise the most mathematically efficient shift patterns, they don’t consider staff fatigue or compliance regulations. It takes considerable skill to balance meeting the requirements of the business without upsetting compromising staff wellbeing.

“Introducing staff friendly shifts and work patterns that give weekends off as often as possible, ensure rest days aren’t split and ensure adequate breaks from work is a bargaining chip when looking to make changes.”

Examining what hours are required to meet the needs of the demands of the business can offer significant savings. One organisation Imperago worked with had a peak hour in one shift where everyone simply did an extra hour of overtime to cover. By moving to a rotating shift pattern the business requirements were met daily, with no overtime and no over-rostering, saving £140,000. Staff benefited from a better work/rest ratio.

“While complying with working time legislation may put companies off re-examining working patterns, new heavier fines for Corporate Manslaughter should serve as a wake-up call. Staff fatigue is an issue that must be tackled, most organisations will benefit with more efficient operations and a more engaged workforce.”

For more information visit: http://www.imperago.co.uk.