By Stephen Dean
In this day and age this has become a catch phrase. But it is an important catch phrase, and very important in the high pressure entertainment industry. We have all worked those 18 hour shifts for several days in a row and then crashed. We all knew that this was not right but we still did it. Now some of us that have been around awhile have realised that this is not good for you the worker or your nearest and dearest. So we need to make sure that we get the right life/ work balance. We often hear of technicians that have burnt out from trying to take on to much work.
It is recognised that fatigue can cause a person to have:
• difficulty in concentration;
• impaired recollection of timing and events;
• poor judgement;
• reduced capacity for effective communication;
• reduced hand-eye coordination;
• reduced visual perception;
• reduced vigilance; and
• slower reaction times.
So from the above it is apparent that a fatigued technician is likely to be dangerous. I even know of technician/contractors that seem to work seven days a week and still are struggling to spend time with the family. This is not a good situation and they need to sit down and seriously look at what they are doing and what they are trying to achieve. If you are working more than about 50 to 60 hours on average a week you are probably working too hard and are heading for an early grave. You need to step back and take stock of what is important to you. Is it going to hurt to turn down the odd shift? What effect is it having on your health and your family?
It is recognised these days by the authorities and a lot of employers that you need to have a life and that we work to live, not live to work. So what can we do about it? Well first off if you are working for someone you do need to make them aware of their obligations under the OH & S act, a work/life balance is actually an integral part of the OHS & W process. An over tired technician is a danger to themselves and others around them. Now this not only applies to technicians that are employed, it also applies to self-employed techs. Most states OH & S regulations have a section that talks about the duty and responsibility of the employees and the self-employed. You will find references to what is required by employers, employees and contractors. Most states also have a Code of Practise for Working Hours; this is very handy document and a great way to find out how to tackle the problem of fatigue in the workplace.
If you are self-employed you also need to think about your working hours and how the fatigue is affecting your work and your personal life. Just because you work for your self does not mean that you can ignore the regulations, you are also obliged under the act to comply. If you are overtired and cause an accident your public liability insurance is not likely to cover you.
An overtired worker is a danger to themselves and others. So we need to make employers and employees aware of the dangers. Don’t always say yes to that extra shift, you might not arrive home if you take it.