Fatigue is a well-recognised workplace safety concern. The impact of fatigue can affect:
- Personal safety through poor coordination or falling asleep while driving;
- Process safety through poor decision making and increased risk-taking behaviour; and
- Individual health, including poor immune system, and increased rates of gastrointestinal upsets, stress, anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disorder, cancer and early onset dementia.
Most companies want to understand their exposure to fatigue-related risk. In doing so, there is potential to realise roster optimisation, rationalisation of overtime and callouts, highlight individual responsibilities to be fit for work, and identify strategic fatigue mitigation and proofing strategies. Any approach to do this effectively should be evidence based and data driven.
The Keil Centre was recently engaged by a major utilities company to measure their operational risk with respect to fatigue. The company relied heavily on callouts to manage service upsets, and overtime to manage absenteeism. There was no data on actual work hours, so they decided to collect data using fatigue diaries. The fatigue diaries measured start and finish times of each work period, sleep duration and quality, and perceptions of fatigue including workload and symptom checklists. To incentivise participation, and provide objective data on sleep duration and quality, the company provided Fitbits to all participants. This incentive generated a lot of energy and interest around the program, and added rigour to the evidence-based process.
Participation in the program helped managers realise simple solutions to better manage the callouts and overtime, and the diaries helped promote self-awareness around the relationship between sleep and fatigue. The results will help drive a change program for roster change, and management of additional work hours, with good involvement from a well-informed, engaged workforce.
For more information about fatigue risk management and related programs, please contact Nicole Gray (firstname.lastname@example.org)