If we have properly engaged leadership and stakeholders, and gone through a rigorous assessment, we should have a fairly clear picture of the size and shape of our fatigue problem. This makes defining our set of solutions a bit simpler. We no longer have to guess what issues we need to address.

Our primary goal in the Define phase is to create a practical, effective management system. A system that predicts, measures and mitigates fatigue and distraction and provides operators tools and knowledge to improve their alertness.

That’s quite a mouthful so let me break it down another way: In the Define phase, we are building the framework, structure and guiding principles that will drive the specific countermeasures and layers of protection in the Develop phase. We are not yet creating the specific countermeasures, programs, interventions and technologies that will be implemented later. Rather, we are identifying the high level areas that we want to focus on.

For example, we may identify that we want to include some form of training and education on how individuals can manage their fatigue. But we are not yet determining the method of delivery, scope, materials, etc. Similarly, we may identify that we want to utilize some form of technology to monitor fatigue but we aren’t yet deciding which technology and how it will be implemented.

Another key component of the Define phase is the definition of our criteria for success. Here we can again refer back to our assess phase for some help. Because we have already determined how to measure fatigue and its impact on individuals and our operation, we can use many of these metrics to determine whether we are having a positive outcome following implementation. It is important and not entirely obvious that the metrics should provide the correct measurements.

For example, to determine whether our training program has had a positive impact on operator fatigue, number of tons moved may not be the best metric as compared to something like health care costs, absenteeism or turnover.

Be very meticulous about defining your FRMS (Fatigue Risk Management System) framework and the measurements of success. The success metrics in particular are important to show not only your improvements, but also where you may have missed the mark and need to make adjustments. Remember, an FRMS is a constantly evolving system which means that the framework you develop in the Define stage needs to be flexible and able to incorporate changes.

Until next time, ask around the neighborhood about FRMS. Benchmarking with other organizations can be a great way to help you define your own FRMS.