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11th February 2020
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Firms must guard against staff fatigue as fines for corporate manslaughter escalate to £20m
Imperago has published a paper outlining the importance of taking staff fatigue into account when devising staff working patterns. Major companies convicted of corporate manslaughter that have a turnover of £50m or more could now face fines of up to £20m according to guidelines by the Sentencing Council that were announced recently.
While there are many lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue, so too can work related factors such as time of working and resting periods, length and number of consecutive work duties and intensity of work demands.
Rob Ayers, group customer account manager at Imperago explains: "Many organisations with complex 24/7 shift and rostering operations have built up work patterns over the years. Rarely do these working patterns get reviewed to ensure that they are meeting the requirements of the business today, if they are the most efficient, and crucially, if they safeguard against staff fatigue."
Fatigue increases the likelihood of errors and adversely affects performance (HSE booklet HSG256, Managing shift work - health and safety guidance) especially in tasks requiring vigilance and monitoring, decision making, fast reaction time, and memory. Fatigued staff often don't adequately perceive risk and may tolerate risks they would usually find unacceptable.
"While many software systems can devise the most mathematically efficient shift patterns, they do not take account of staff fatigue, compliance regulations or unions," adds Rob. "It takes considerable skill to balance meeting the requirements of the business without upsetting the unions or compromising staff wellbeing.
"However, introducing staff friendly shifts and work patterns that give weekends off as often as possible, ensure that rest days aren't split and that ensure adequate breaks from work is a great bargaining chip when looking to make changes."
Examining what hours are required to meet the needs of the demands of the business can also provide significant savings. One organisation that Imperago worked with had a peak hour in one shift where everyone simply did an extra hour of overtime to cover. By moving to a rotating shift pattern the business requirements were met each day, with no overtime and no over-rostering, saving the organisation £140,000. The staff also benefited from a better work/rest ratio.
"While complying with working time legislation and negotiating with unions may put many companies off re-examining their working patterns, the new heavier fines for Corporate Manslaughter should serve as a wake-up call. Staff fatigue is an issue that should be tackled - most organisations will benefit with more efficient operations and a more engaged workforce."
Imperago is a specialist software and services company that enables companies to plan and manage work patterns, shifts and rosters, ensuring that they get the most out of their existing workforce management solutions.
22nd April 2016