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Fatigue Management & Human Factors in our 24-hour Society
Fatigue Management & Human Factors in our 24-hour Society

The Fatigue Insider Blog

Workload and Cabin Crew Fatigue

Oct 02, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

 

A new study published in the International Journal of Aerospace Psychology examined the correlation between fatigue and workload in cabin crews, and found perceived workload to be an independent predictor of fatigue.
 
Cabin crew face workload demands very different from that of pilots, their responsibilities include a lot more physical tasks as well as factors like turbulence, passenger demands, and medical incidents. The need for them to be awake during all meal services also means that they have less time available for significant blocks of rest.
 
The study evaluated Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS) tailored to the needs of cabin crews on ultra-long haul flights (longer than 16 hours). 55 airline cabin crew wore an actigraph and completed a sleep diary during an ultra-long trip. Before landing, the participants completed a psychomotor performance test and after landing they rated their workload for the flight. They found that on higher workload flight, members of the cabin crew felt more sleepy and fatigued, and were less successful at their psychomotor performance test.
 
Lead author Margo van den Berg, a PhD candidate at Massey University said, “It is important that the effects of workload in flight should not be viewed in isolation... Cabin crew often experience fatigue as a consequence of their irregular work schedules, which include early starts, late finishes, night work, frequent time zone changes, and long duty periods, causing sleep loss and circadian rhythm disruption. Considering that their most important role is to ensure cabin and passenger safety during flight, cabin crew fatigue and its associated risks needs to be managed carefully.”
 
As airline cabin crews are responsible for ensuring the safety and comfort of passengers aboard flights, it is important to manage and decrease fatigue-related operational risk.
 
You can view the study here.

 

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Sweet Dreams: How is sugar ruining your sleep?

Sep 25, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

 

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but if you eat garbage, you’ll sleep like garbage too.
 
A 2016 study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that eating sugar before bed was associated with “lighter, less restorative sleep with more arousals.” They found that participants whose diets consisted of more sugar and fat spent less time in deep sleep, a phase that is essential for cell-regeneration, recovery, and immune function.
 
They also discovered that those who ate more sugar had more trouble falling asleep, and were more likely be pulled out of deep sleep without waking up, which can leave you feeling chronically tired even if you get the right amount of hours.
 
This can also work in reverse, as individuals who are getting more high quality sleep are less likely to gravitate towards sugar and refined carbohydrates for an un-sustainable energy boost.
 
The study also linked fibre intake with deeper, more restorative sleep. They posited that a diet rich in fibre, with less sugars and simple carbohydrates and may be a useful tool to improve sleep. If you want to start sleeping more soundly, try slowly cutting back your sugar intake to see if that helps you wake up more well-rested.

 

 

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Simple yoga poses to help you get some shuteye

Sep 18, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

Yoga can be a gentle way to help you wind down at the end of the night and bring some awareness back into your body. An American national health interview survey (NHIS) found that over 55% of respondents reported improved sleep, and 85% reported reduced stress. We’ve included some of the most relaxing yoga poses to help relieve your muscles and get you ready for bed.

Child’s pose (Balasana)
Try this kneeling pose with your legs hip-width apart and your arms either by your side or stretched out in front for additional spine lengthening and shoulder relief.

 

 
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Bend forward with your hands clasped to the opposite elbow to achieve a hamstring, calve and hip stretch and provide relief to your neck and shoulders. Shake your head ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to release tension in your neck, and softly bend your knees if the hamstring stretch is too intense.

 

Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani)

 This pose not only releases tension in the lower back and stretches the hamstrings, but also allows your circulation to re-adjust, taking pressure from the feet and ankles and increasing blood flow to the upper body. Try to get your legs as close to the wall as your hamstrings allow.

 
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Traditionally the final pose in a yoga class, use this pose to centre your thoughts, focus on your breathing, and allow every muscle in your body to relax.


 

 

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Sleeping pilots and the need for proactive fatigue management

Sep 11, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

The Federal Aviation Administration in the US is investigating a June incident where a helicopter pilot fell asleep mid-air. The Boston MedFlight pilot was transporting a patient from Martha’s Vineyard to a Boston Hospital for treatment.
 
MedFlight CEO Maura Hughes said in a statement that fatigue played a role, adding that they “are now working with a fatigue management consultant and a safety consultant to review our policies and procedures so that this isolated incident does not happen again.” Isolated or not, fatigue management systems can and should be in place before incidents like these occur, not just reactive in nature.
 
This comes after the recent release of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) on the Australian pilot who fell asleep and overflew his King’s Island destination by 78 kilometres late last year. They found that the pilot had been awake for 24 hours before the incident and had not been able to sleep during a scheduled three-hour rest period before the flight. The report stated his level of fatigue would have affected his performance, even if he had been able to sleep during the rest period.
 
Nat Nagy, who is the ATSB's executive director of transport safety, placed emphasis on the role of both pilots and the airline operators in fatigue management. "Just as it is the pilot's responsibility to use rest periods to get adequate sleep and to remove themselves from duty if they feel fatigued, it is also incumbent on operators to implement policies and create an organisational culture where flight crew can report fatigue and remove themselves from duty in a supportive environment."
 
While in both instances no one was injured and the aircrafts sustained no damage, they signal a greater need for aviation operators to have proactive and robust fatigue management strategies, rather than waiting for an incident to occur.

 

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Fatigue and Psychosocial WHS Risks

Sep 04, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

We know that fatigue can adversely affect safety at the workplace. It reduces alertness, which may lead to errors and an increase in incidents and injuries, not to mention its long-term health risks.
 
Companies need to be more cognisant of their work health and safety (WHS) obligations following the tightening of regulations and possible consequences of neglecting responsibilities. The release of Marie Boland’s independent review of WHS laws earlier this year has brought this to the forefront, with her recommendations including tougher penalties for breaches and the introduction of industrial manslaughter laws.
 
Unsurprisingly, psychological health and safety was one of the most frequently raised issues by stakeholders during the Boland Review. This is perhaps to be expected, given that Safe Work Australia data shows that workplace psychological injuries are one of the most costly forms of workplace injury, and many business owners are uncertain about how to address psychological health in the workplace. There has been a shift in the last few years to place more emphasis on psychosocial risks and injuries in the workplace, which can include fatigue, mental health issues, harassment, and bullying.
 
Part of the strategy to address these psychosocial risks should include robust fatigue management, as we know that major long-term health risks associated with fatigue include mental health issues, namely depression and anxiety.

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Remembering Dr Rob Lee AO

Aug 28, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

Long-time aviation safety and human factors expert Dr Robert Lee AO sadly passed away in April this year at 74 after a battle with cancer.
 
An authority in aviation psychology and human factors, his professional work has been of great value to flight safety and across various modes of transport worldwide. He will be remembered as a dedicated public servant, a successful international diplomat, a towering figure in his field, as well as a loving family man and lead guitarist in Canberra band ‘Mid-Life Crisis’.
 
Dr Rob Lee was appointed senior psychologist with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in 1976. In 1983 he joined the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation (BASI) as its first human factors specialist. He established and developed BASI’s capability in human factors, systems safety and research and later became director. In 1999 he was appointed director of human factors, systems safety and communications of the newly established Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).
 
A spokesperson from the ATSB said of his leadership, “he transformed the Bureau from a largely reactive investigative agency to an innovative multi-skilled organisation that also concentrated on proactive accident prevention and safety enhancement.”

His contributions to aviation safety are immeasurable, but the millions of Australians who travel on a plane each year do so safely becuase of Dr Rob Lee.

Dr Adam Fletcher was honoured to be invited to memorialise Dr Rob Lee at the Safeskies 2019 conference. He will be speaking at the Dr Rob Lee Memorial & System Safety/Human Factors Panel Session on the 16th of October in Canberra.
 
Dr Adam Fletcher will also be at the PACDEFF 2019 conference in the Gold Coast. On the 3rd of September, he will do a presentation on what we can learn from pilots’ sleep data; as well as a workshop on the 5th of September on designing and implementing a Fatigue Risk Management System.
 
On September 10th, he will chair a session on shiftwork and disease at WTS’ Twenty-Fourth International Symposium on Shiftwork & Working Time in Idaho.

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Sleep deprivation: National Guard medical personnel

Aug 21, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

 

A new study in the Journal of Military Psychology of US Air National Guard medical personnel found that service members experienced levels of sleep restriction that resulted in significantly reduced cognitive effectiveness.
 
Part of the interest in studying National Guard personnel came from their unique position as service members who frequently have to transition from civilian to active-duty status, with their jobs often also incorporating shift work and long hours. As a reserve military force, most personnel have full-time civilian jobs outside of their military responsibilities. Depending on the nature of their military responsibilities, they may have to transition between these with very little rest in between, resulting in personnel who are very susceptible to showing up to active-duty already in a state of fatigue.
 
The authors of the study placed emphasis on the research showing that military personnel can often experience even greater fatigue-related risks than those associated with civilian groups like doctors or truck drivers. They attributed this the unique situations they are subjected to where “sleep opportunity is restricted, exacerbated by unique levels of physical and psychological stress, where consequences of error can be life or death.”
 
At the conclusion of the study, they delivered a sleep management workshop for National Guard Medical Personnel and found that members, as well as commanders, were highly receptive to the information provided. They concluded the study by advocating for the “necessity of targeted interventions to reduce fatigue-related harm to service members and the citizens they protect.”

 

Click here to read the full study by Lois James, Denise Smart, Tamara Odom-Maryon, Kimberly A. Honn & Stephanie Rowan.
 

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