Skip to main content

Control measure
Monitor health and fatigue

Control measure knowledge

Most firefighters work shift systems, including at night, and sometimes for extended hours. Such working patterns can lead to adverse effects on health. Reduced performance levels have been associated with shift working, which can also increase the likelihood of accidents and ill health.

Firefighters may experience severe fatigue, which may lead to impaired performance on tasks that require attention, decision-making or high levels of skill. For safety-critical work the effects of fatigue can give rise to increased risks.

Section 6 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states that every employer shall ensure that his or her employees are provided with health surveillance appropriate to the risks to their health and safety identified by the assessment. 

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Consider the impact of fatigue as per The Working Time Regulations (as amended)
  • Ensure that fatigue associated with primary employment is considered in the case of retained duty staff and that arrangements are in place to monitor and manage fatigue and crew welfare during such incidents
  • Ensure rest and recuperation periods follow protracted and arduous incidents
  • Consider drug and alcohol testing

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Adhere to service policy and procedures in relation to health and fatigue