Guide for managing the risk of fatigue at work

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Guide for


Safe Work Australia is an Australian Government statutory agency established in 2009.
Safe Work Australia consists of representatives of the Commonwealth, state and territory
governments, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Chamber of Commerce
and Industry and the Australian Industry Group.

Safe Work Australia works with the Commonwealth, state and territory governments to improve

work health and safety and workers’ compensation arrangements. Safe Work Australia is a national
policy body, not a regulator of work health and safety. The Commonwealth, states and territories
have responsibility for regulating and enforcing work health and safety laws in their jurisdiction.

ISBN 978-1 74361-260-6 [PDF]

ISBN 978-1 74361-261-3 [DOCX]

Creative Commons

Except for the logos of Safe Work Australia, SafeWork SA, Workplace Standards Tasmania, WorkSafe WA, Workplace Health and Safety QLD, NT WorkSafe, WorkCover NSW, Comcare and WorkSafe ACT, this copyright work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Australia licence.

To view a copy of this licence, visit

In essence, you are free to copy, communicate and adapt the work for non commercial purposes, as long as you attribute the work to Safe Work Australia and abide by the other licence terms.

Contact information

Safe Work Australia

Phone: 1300 551 832



safe work australia logo. australian government comcare logo. act government justice and community safety logo. worksafe act logo.workcover new south wales logo.

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2.1What is fatigue? 4

2.2Why is fatigue a problem? 4

2.3How can you tell if someone is fatigued? 5

2.4Who has health and safety duties in relation to managing the risks of fatigue? 5

Table 1 Health and safety duties in relation to managing the risks of fatigue 5

2.5How can the risks of fatigue be managed at the workplace? 6

Consulting workers 6

Consulting, co-operating and co-ordinating activities with other duty holders 7


2.1Factors that may contribute to and increase the risk of fatigue 8

Work schedules – shift work, night work, hours of work, breaks 8

Job demands 8

Sleep – length of sleep time, quality of sleep and time since sleep 8

Environmental conditions 8

Non-work related factors 9

2.2How to identify factors that may contribute to or increase the risk of fatigue 9

Workers at high risk of fatigue 9

Safety critical tasks 10

2.3Assessing the risks 10

2.4Controlling the risks 11

Work scheduling 11

Shift work and rosters 11

Job demands 12

Environmental conditions 12

Non-work related factors 13

Workplace fatigue policy 13

2.5Information, instruction, training and supervision 14

Managers and supervisors 14

2.6Monitoring and reviewing 14

Guidelines for shift design 18

Case Study 1: Work scheduling: 23

Case study 2: Manufacturing 23

Case study 3: Health 24

Case study 4: Emergency Services 25


This document provides practical guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking and other duty holders on how to manage fatigue to ensure it does not contribute to health and safety risks in the workplace.

The information in this guide can be applied generally to all types of work and workplaces covered by the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act. It is not designed to provide information on managing fatigue in specific industries and does not replace requirements related to fatigue under other laws, for example heavy vehicle driver fatigue laws or rail safety requirements. This information is available in the National Transport Commission’s Guidelines for Managing Heavy Vehicle Driver Fatigue and the National Rail Safety Regulator’s Guidance on Fatigue Risk Management Program. Working hours may also be subject to industrial awards or enterprise agreements.

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