The impact of fatigue on workforce sustainability in the construction industry

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Lipsham, T.
Davies, Kathryn
Kestle, Linda
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Conference Contribution - Paper in Published Proceedings
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
Auckland (N.Z.)
construction workers
fatigue management
health and safety
work-life balance
work hours
worker retention
New Zealand
Lipsham, T., Davies, K., & Kestle, L. (2018). The impact of fatigue on workforce sustainability in the construction industry. In Do, K., Sutrisna, M., Cooper-Cooke, B. & Olatunji. O. (Ed.), 42nd Australasian Universities Building Education Association (AUBEA) Conference: Educating building professionals for the future in the globalised world , Vol. 3: Sustainability (pp. 73-82).
The construction industry is widely recognised as very demanding of its workers, and fatigue is a common result. Long working hours, unreasonable deadlines, heavy workloads, lack of resources, and a macho work culture are common features of industry practices internationally which can be seen to contribute to this. At the same time, there are widespread concerns around workforce sustainability. Developing and maintaining a skilled workforce is a challenge for many employers, particularly in the current situation with a large cohort of aging workers leading to an imminent need for workforce renewal. This paper presents the results of an exploratory study into the conditions leading to fatigue and its impact on construction workers in Auckland, New Zealand. Participants described fatigue-related effects such as damaged relationships and increased workplace conflict, job dissatisfaction and poor work-life balance, as well as specific health and safety issues such as deteriorated vision, mental exhaustion and impaired decision-making leading to accidents. Managing fatigue in the face of the demanding work environment is a specific health and safety concern for older workers, given the physicality of many construction industry roles. For younger workers, while health and safety is still an issue, a potentially more important factor is the effect of fatigue on worker satisfaction and thus retention within the construction workforce, and how fatigue and its causes and consequences affect the image of the construction industry.
Curtin University (Bentley, Western Australia)
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