As a young child, I would occasionally ask my parents why I had to do something (OK, maybe more than just occasionally). I remember at a very early age the reason they gave me was, “Because I’m the parent and I say so.” It didn’t matter that they didn’t seem to be brushing their teeth when I did or making their bed when I was told to; even though I knew that they did those things too.

This brings us to the first step in the development and implementation of a comprehensive Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS): ENGAGE.

When we hear the word engage, we often think of how we need to engage the workforce to embrace the new program we are rolling out, or the new technology we are installing. But in this case, we are talking about engaging LEADERSHIP.

I remember conducting a shiftwork and fatigue training course to a group of hourly employees at a power generation plant in Colorado. During one of the breaks, I introduced myself to a young worker who seemed to be distracted and definitely not engaged in the information and materials. In a roundabout way I eventually asked him if he thought the information was useful. He replied that, yes, he thought it was useful, but that he wouldn’t really be able to use it because he knew his supervisor wouldn’t support many of the concepts so why bother.

Would an engaged, educated, visible and supportive supervisor, manager, executive have made a difference in this case? 

You can count on it.

Not to say that some benefit might not be achieved when we implement an FRMS in an operation where management is not fully supportive or engaged, but how much do we miss out on when we don’t have strong positive engagement?  We can’t know for sure.

In the first stages of developing and implementing an FRMS, we focus on engaging the leadership to arm them with the knowledge and information necessary to truly make managing fatigue a core value in the culture of the operation. Without this essential support, the foundation for the FRMS is weak and susceptible to crumbling over time. Tools such as on-site workshops and the safety perception survey can be deployed to engage leadership around the value and benefits of a comprehensive FRMS.

Once we have an engaged leadership team, we can then dig into the ASSESS phase, where we begin to determine the sources, size and cost of fatigue and fatigue risk in an operation.

Until next time,