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Basis of a fatigue management plan

Basis of a fatigue management plan

Creating a company ‘fatigue management’ allows managers to identify risks and have them appropriately addressed to ensure employees, assets and the greater community remains safe.


What is fatigue management?

Fatigue management is the commonly used term for managing employee tiredness in the workplace.

Physical or mental tiredness reduces alertness and negatively impacts on performance in all areas of a person's life and this is particularly relevant for a workplace where 24-hour shift work is part of the regular schedule.

Add to this the impact of workers who Fly In Fly Out (FIFO) or Drive In Drive Out (DIDO), and you have increased their hours awake significantly.

Commonly, a company looks at the hours of work for staff members and ensures they have enough time to sleep between finishing a shift and starting the next shift. This, however, doesn’t often address their quality of sleep the night before or during the weeks leading up to work.

Further influencers of sleep deprivation include:

  • Stress
  • Jet lag
  • Sleep disorders
  • Poor eating habits

Fatigue management plan

The first step towards prevention is developing a fatigue management plan, and to begin, employers need to assess their staff to identify possible instances or causes related to drowsiness.

A risk assessment will identify:

  • Workers likely to experience drowsiness – night shift workers, long-distance drivers, and those with repetitive tasks.)
  • Hours of work – number per week and rest times between shifts.
  • The time of day they are working – night shifts, number of night shifts per week and the start and finish times.
  • Actions to be taken – weekly rotating schedules, reducing the number of consecutive night shifts, changing the start and finish times.

Managers and employers should be trained in identifying risks and implementing appropriate actions to ensure health and safety of all employees.

If your employees are complaining about fatigue, or you have experienced fatigue-related incidents at work, then contact us.

Using the data Optalert’s systems collect

Optalert’s advanced early-warning drowsiness detection technology can actually detect levels of drowsiness for workers, and converts these results into data and valuable reporting tools for employers or risk managers.

Trend-analysis and benchmarking of customer data also allows Optalert to profile the fatigue-related risk of individuals, sites and the company as a whole. This type of analysis provides customers with objective evidence for the overall reduction of fatigue-related risk from the continued use of Optalert’s technology over time.

This data then forms the basis for the fatigue management plan, which needs to be reviewed and adjusted over time to ensure employees remain alert and risk-free.

Hours of comprehensive data is assessed and we can provide best practices and recommendations so you can create a valuable fatigue management plan for your employees.

Our collated data can help management determine:

  • Break requirements
  • Geographical risk spots
  • Start and finish times
  • Optimal length of shifts
  • Schedules and rostering
  • Underlying sleep disorders

Your fatigue management plan may therefore include:

  • Checklists
  • Roles of employees
  • Responsibilities of supervisors and managers
  • Guidelines surrounding maximum shift lengths
  • Mandatory break standards
  • Clear procedures when a user is determined to be ‘at risk’
  • Common hazards specific to your industry
  • Behavioural recommendations for employees

Fatigue management x drowsiness detection

Fatigue, but more specifically ‘drowsiness’ which is the dangerous state before sleep, combined with a hectic work schedule can wreak havoc on our health and safety.

Shift workers are most likely to suffer injuries and illnesses caused by drowsiness, as they are the type of workers who tend to work against their natural body clock.

Generally, shift workers have to fight against their circadian rhythm in order to stay awake during the night – when they are programmed to sleep – and sleep during the day, when they are programmed to be awake.

This has been particularly challenging for some industries.

Difficult and demanding work schedules, combined with the lack of objective data for the trucking industry, has meant legislation has been limited. Logbooks and self-assessment tools have been relied on for accident prevention.

Of course these don’t take into account the quality of sleep a person is receiving and other behavioural issues not captured in a self-assessment tool.

See more about fatigue management in the trucking industry.

Optalert’s objective real-time fatigue monitoring, combined with a strong fatigue management plan,based on objective data and scheduling practices, would enable a more reliable assessment and prevention process for companies and individuals.

Read this blog post to learn more about developing a fatigue management plan.

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