Working hours: How to get the right balance

On the second day of Farm Safety Week 2021, which runs from 19-23 July, the focus moves to working hours and making sure you take sufficient rest.

As many farmers and growers across the country begin harvesting, there is a need to get the job done, but also to ensure that all workers on farm have sufficient rest to help them stay alert and stay safe.

Anyone who is fatigued is likely to suffer a decline in mental and physical performance. Prolonged exertion, sleep loss and disruption of the body’s internal clock can all take a toll. There is also a link between workload and fatigue and evidence that workers are more easily fatigued if their work is machine paced, complex or monotonous.

Rules on working hours

There are rules on the number of hours workers can do and members can find more information in this NFU briefing on working hours during harvest.

The dangers of fatigue

Fatigue results in slower reaction times, reduced ability to process information, memory lapses, absent mindedness, decreased awareness, lack of attention, underestimation of risk and reduced coordination. As well as reducing productivity, fatigue can lead to errors and accidents, ill health, and injury. It is also thought to be a factor in 20% of road accidents.

What can we do?

Fatigue is a risk, and like any other risk, needs to be identified and managed.

Read our tips to manage fatigue:

  • Start the day right. A good restful night of sleep can help give you the energy for the day ahead. Try to get between six and eight hours.
  • Follow up good night’s sleep with a nutritious breakfast of proteins and healthy grains (this should not be a problem for arable farmers!).
  • Stay hydrated during the day. Try and drink between six and eight glasses. A cool drink of water can really help give a boost when feeling sluggish.
  • Take breaks. Taking a break is good physically and helps relieve stiff limbs and muscles. Taking a break is also good for you mentally and can help you to stay focused when you resume work.
  • Build in time to have down time, which will help to reduce stress. This can be a simple activity, such as spending time with family or friends, or going for a walk.

Further information

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