Inside Logistics

Workplace fatigue pervasive, but undefined, study says

A common definition of workplace fatigue is currently lacking in Canada


November 20, 2019
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TORONTO – In 2019, for the first time, the World Health Organization recognized burnout as a medical diagnosis. However, without a standard definition of what workplace fatigue means in Canada, it’s difficult to say how pervasive the problem is.

That’s the key finding from CSA Group’s latest research report Workplace Fatigue: Current Landscape and Future Considerations which was released today and finds that a common definition of workplace fatigue is currently lacking in Canada.

CSA Group’s research finds that while a number of industries in Canada, including aviation, rail, marine, nuclear, oil and gas, healthcare and defence, do recognize fatigue as an issue for workers, there is no comprehensive definition of workplace fatigue, what causes it or how it may affect performance.

“Our research has identified that there is certainly an opportunity for standards that address workplace fatigue to make a real and positive difference to workers in this country,” said Mary Cianchetti, president of standards, CSA Group.

“What we’ve found is there is a need to support the management of workplace fatigue in Canada for the health and safety of Canadian workers. CSA Group could help to address this gap with a national standard.”

In some workplaces, the potential consequences of fatigue can be a matter of life and death. Workers in paramedic services face unique health and safety issues on a daily basis such as shift work and extended work days, as well as periods of intense psychological stress or trauma. That’s why the Paramedic Association of Canada is currently working with CSA Group to develop a national standard on fatigue risk management for first responders, in parallel with this new research.

“This research identifies that a gap does exist in Canada when it comes to how fatigue is being addressed in the workplace. We are pleased to already be working with CSA Group to develop a standard for fatigue risk management for first responders aimed at reducing exposure to fatigue-related hazards and protecting both paramedics and the people they help every day,” said Pierre Poirier, executive director, Paramedic Association of Canada.

The creation of a standard for workplace fatigue could address gaps in the existing legislation to protect the health and livelihood of all Canadian workers, regardless of where they work.