What Is Fatigue?
Fatigue can be defined as a progressive decline in alertness, work performance, health and well-being.
Fatigue may also be defined as physical and/or mental weariness, whether real or imagined, existing in a person and adversely affecting the ability to perform work efficiently.
The symptom of fatigue is a feeling of weariness, tiredness, or exhaustion. The degree of fatigue tends to change in linear proportion to the poorness of output.
Fatigue continues to be one of the most treacherous hazards to safety critical industries, as it may not be apparent to a subject until serious errors are made.
Fatigue is best described as either acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term).
Acute fatigue, a normal occurrence of everyday living, is the tiredness felt after long periods of physical and mental strain, including strenuous muscular effort, immobility, heavy mental workload, strong emotional pressure, monotony, and lack of sleep.
Consequently, coordination and alertness, so vital to job performance, can be reduced. Acute fatigue affects millions of people around the world, and costs billions of dollars per year in medical expenses, accidents, injuries and lost productivity.
Acute fatigue is prevented by adequate rest and sleep, as well as regular exercise and proper nutrition.
Chronic fatigue occurs when there is not enough time for full recovery between episodes of acute fatigue. Performance continues to wane or dwindle, and judgment becomes impaired so that unwarranted risks may be taken. Recovery from chronic fatigue requires a prolonged period of rest.
Basic Truths About Fatigue
Fatigue is a symptom rather than a specific illness or disorder. While it is common to have the occasional day where we feel tired and less energetic than usual, people suffering with fatigue feel tired and lethargic all the time and seem to lack energy.
Fatigue may be both physical and mental. Physical fatigue occurs when the physical efficiency gets reduced and physical coordination becomes difficult. But mental fatigue is something which mainly results from lack of motivation to do any work, lack of interest, inability to concentrate and overall lack of efficiency.
Fatigue is manifested in different people at different rate. It needs to be investigated from both a physiological as well as psychological point of view. Industrial fatigue rarely concerns a single muscle. Rather, it concerns the individual as a whole depending on the stamina and strength of an individual.
Causes of Fatigue
Fatigue is an everyday occurrence as many people work outside of ‘standard’ office hours and thus experience an elevated level of fatigue. Shift work, long work hours and international travel can result in fatigue. Other causes of fatigue include environmental factors such as heat, noise, insufficient light, etc.
Fatigue is a state in which at the moment there is decline in interest and desire. Irrespective of the interest or attention or even devotion with which an individual performs a particular task, there invariably comes a moment when he or she begins to experience tiredness. Hence, industrial psychologists aim to reduce the effects of fatigue in workers by introducing more efficient work method, proper training and effective motivation and thereby maintain or increase productivity and job satisfaction.