Intoxicated by fatigue

By Jeffrey J. Lipsitz
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 07/21/2003

Canadian corporations are facing a dangerous liability that they are not properly accounting for: workplace fatigue. Between one-quarter and one-third of Canadians report regularly having difficulty with sleep and wakefulness.

These difficulties lead to functional impairment comparable to alcohol intoxication. And while it is not acceptable to report for duty while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, how many workplaces have similar policies in place to deal with the larger number of workers who are regularly functionally impaired by sleepiness?

How many employers help their workers avoid the sleepiness caused by long hours on the job and the resulting inadequacy of workers’ sleep or the rigours of shift work in round-the-clock operations? How many have a meaningful “fatigue management program” in place?