Work-related fatigue: A hazard for workers experiencing disproportionate occupational risks


Background: Long working hours and fatigue are significant occupational safety and health (OSH) hazards for working populations who experience disproportionate risks of injury and illness. These groups include young or new workers, aging workers, contingent and temporary workers, immigrant and nonnative workers, female workers, minority workers, workers with low levels of education and lower socioeconomic status, and small business employees. An increasing focus on newer determinants of health in the workplace, such as health equity and work-life conflict, in worker populations at greater risk for injury or illness, provides an opportunity for researchers to address the causes and consequences of work-related fatigue in high-risk populations. Methods: Articles in the OSH literature that addressed fatigue in higher-risk workers were identified by the authors or recommended by subject matter experts in workplace fatigue as part of a Working Hours, Sleep and Fatigue Forum. Additional articles were identified by searching for a combination of specific at-risk worker group titles (e.g., female workers, temporary workers) with fatigue or working hours. Results: There remains a paucity of research specifically addressing working hours and fatigue among disproportionately at-risk worker populations. The literature reviewed in this paper suggests that several of these populations are at increased risk of fatigue due to multiple factors, such as irregular shifts, lack of access to fatigue management resources, and socioeconomic barriers. Conclusions: More research is needed to identify solutions to address fatigue in working populations who may be at greater risk for its consequences by virtue of adverse socioeconomic and related factors. Interventions to address work-related fatigue in specific at-risk worker groups should also consider the multiple and overlapping categories of risk within these populations.

Authors: Thomas R Cunningham, Rebecca J Guerin, Jacqueline Ferguson, Jennifer Cavallari
; Full Source: American journal of industrial medicine 2022 Jan 27. doi: 10.1002/ajim.23325.