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CSA research finds Canadian employers can do more to address workplace fatigue

With “unprecedented levels of workplace fatigue attributed to modern day work,” a national standard could help address the issue and improve workplaces in Canada


November 22, 2019
By Staff

Professional burnout is affecting a wide range of jobs, workplaces and industries, and there is no standard definition or management practice in place to address this issue. That’s the key finding from CSA Group’s latest research report, Workplace Fatigue: Current Landscape and Future Considerations, which was released this week and finds that a common definition of workplace fatigue is currently lacking in Canada.

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.

CSA Group’s research finds that while a number of industries in Canada, including aviation, rail, marine, nuclear, oil and gas, healthcare and defense 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.”

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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.

“Paramedics do a job that can be grueling both physically and emotionally, and workplace fatigue is an issue we cannot ignore. We know that the impact of fatigue on first responders can affect neurocognitive performance, which in turn can endanger not only their own personal health and safety, but also the health and safety of their fellow responders and the public they serve,” said Pierre Poirier, the executive director of Paramedic Association of Canada. “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.”

In 2018, CSA Group introduced a psychological health and safety standard to address the specific needs of paramedic service organizations. 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.

For more information on the Workplace Fatigue: Current Landscape and Future Considerations research report, click here.

CSA Group is a global organization dedicated to “safety, social good and sustainability.” The company specializes in standards development and in testing, inspection and certification in Canada, the U.S., Europe and Asia.