Spotlight on sleep and safety link
National Sleep Awareness Week this week raises the importance of sleep for physical and mental health, and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services has taken the opportunity to spread the word about fatigue management.
The DFES sees firsthand how fatigue can cause accidents and affects its members — night shifts and stressful situations are common during emergency response.
DFES area officer for Albany West Tim Wall said the organisation used the week to teach staff helpful techniques and better sleep habits.
“One thing we do is push fatigue management within our own organisation,” he said.
“Some incidents that do happen, whether it is a car accident or not, are because people are fatigued and aren’t seeing their warning signs.”
He said lack of sleep could be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol and may result in poor judgment, workplace accidents and mental health issues.
“In today’s society we are very busy and I don’t think we are identifying the need for sleep,” Mr Wall said.
Many may be oblivious to the fact their bodies need to rest, and Mr Wall said especially when driving long distances, such as to Perth, people should take breaks.
“Fatigue is like driving through that motion where you haven’t realised that you have driven the last 10km because you are in that zone,” he said.
“If you don’t take breaks when you are driving and you do drive tired, your worst nightmare of having an accident could come true.”
This is the first time the DFES has taken part in National Sleep Awareness Week and it encourages all workplaces to make sure they have a good fatigue management scheme in place.
Albany Sleep Clinic owner Vicki Ronayne visited the Albany DFES on Tuesday to speak to staff and said many conditions could affect sleep and should not be ignored.
“Stress, sleep apnoea, medical conditions, both physical and mental — there are many contributing factors,” she said.
“Sleep apnoea does not discriminate between gender, age or, necessarily, weight.
“It can be detrimental to your health, work, lifestyle and safety.”