Assessing fatigue risk or “Where is that squeak coming from?”
Ensuring a systematic approach based on objective data and information is one of the most crucial elements in the ASSESS stage of the development and implementation of a Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS). Without this objective assessment, there is also not a clear way to measure the impact of the countermeasures that are put in place.
Ever heard the phrase “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”? This is common in the approach that many use around implementing fatigue solutions. One person or a group of people complains about the schedule, the shift rotation or start/end times of the shifts until it is changed. Or one individual has an incident that “seems” to be related to fatigue and an onslaught of new policies, procedures and programs are implemented to reduce the risk of that incident occurring again. But this approach may not necessarily reduce the risk. It also isn’t based on objective, measurable data or information. It is a knee-jerk reaction.
The goal of the assessment is to measure the overall impact fatigue plays in an operation. The use of technology often plays a large role in assessing fatigue risk but is neither required nor the only means of measurement. For example, a detailed analysis of past incidents with a focus on time of day and other fatigue related factors can provide strong insight into trends in fatigue risk. Similarly, a deep review of workers’ compensation, health care costs and even absenteeism and turnover can provide indications of the level of fatigue employees may be experiencing.
There are many different types of technology that can be used as part of a comprehensive fatigue risk assessment. These include validated surveys like the Safety Perception Survey, fatigue modeling software such as FAST, sleep/alertness wearables like the Readiband and in-cab fatigue detection solutions like the Driver Safety System (DSS). When utilizing technology in a fatigue risk assessment, it is crucial to manage its introduction and use. Improper and ineffective introduction of technology can derail efforts toward the development and implementation of an FRMS. More detail on the most effective use of technology will follow in later posts.
With the results of a comprehensive fatigue risk assessment in hand, the scope of fatigue risk and its impact on the safety of the workforce, the operation itself and the excess costs of fatigue can be determined. These “pain points” then lead to the next stage of FRMS development, which is to DEFINE the countermeasures that address the fatigue risks. This will be the topic of our next post. Until then, have a look at the last year or two of incidents in your operation and try to identify trends in the timing of the incidents. Clusters of incidents in the early morning hours are often a strong indicator that fatigue played some part….
Until next time,