Plug through. Keep going. Don’t look at the clock. These are the things we tell ourselves when we’re exhausted on the job and feel as though we’re about to lose our minds. While a sense of resilience is always important in the workplace, taking mental and physical breaks – especially on bustling manufacturing floors – is critical for your health and well-being, as well as ensuring the safety of others in your workplace. Believe it or not, a significant part of workplace safety protocols involve regularly scheduled, intermittent breaks throughout the workday. Even just a five-minute break can be all it takes to feel refreshed and less distracted during a long shift.

First, it’s important to understand that distractions are one of the most common causes of workplace accidents and injuries. Distractions often originate from the need to get a job done quickly, resulting in less focus on safety procedures and standards. Many employees feel the need to hurry up and complete tasks to meet production goals, a feeling which may be self-inflicted or based on managers’ demands. As an employee, you must balance production expectations with your own productivity level and be realistic with how much you can accomplish. For example, when you feel your eyes getting tired or your focus diminishing, you must remove yourself from the task – even for just a brief period of time. “Micro-breaks” in which you step away from your workstation briefly to recharge will help you regain clarity when you return to work, ultimately improving your performance.

Most importantly, taking breaks lowers the risk of personal injury due to fatigue or physical strain, such as headaches or neck pain. Micro-breaks should be taken as needed, in an effort to ensure safety on the floor and prevent accidents caused by dangerous equipment or machinery. All manufacturing employers should invest in training employees on proper safety protocols, as well as require employees to take regular breaks.

Using good judgment when it comes to taking breaks at work is critical in preventing workplace accidents and maintaining a high level of productivity. Being proactive about taking regular breaks on the job will help you achieve positive performance and enjoy a safer, more productive work environment.

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