In today’s workplace, fatigue is four times more likely to contribute to workplace impairment than drugs or alcohol, Susan Sawatzky of In-Scope Solutions said Monday. Yet this prevalent health and safety risk is still largely under-recognized by the majority of organizations and industries, she said.

Fatigue management needs to be supported from the top but it needs to be built up from the bottom, Sawatzky said. She said companies should look at where fatigue could take place and develop a plan to address and manage fatigue in employees just as they would develop any safety program.

Fatigue is a causal factor in an estimated 20 percent of all vehicle fatalities and indicated in 5 percent of all workplace fatalities, Sawatzky said. When fatigue is identified as a workplace hazard, many are not aware of existing best practices and personal mitigation strategies available.

When work and/or personal requirements cause us to extend our normal waking hours, it is important to recognize the health and safety issues that are created, she said. Recognizing the symptoms of fatigue and assessing fatigue risks can help inform when mitigation is needed, and having a strategic plan for dealing with fatigue can help individuals take control and proactively manage the issue. She said identifying or ruling out fatigue should be a factor in any incident investigation procedure since it may be related to the cause.