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The Fatigue Insider Blog

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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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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Can Fatigue Monitoring Technology Boost Heavy Vehicle Safety?

Jul 31, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

Driver fatigue and distraction are still significant factors in heavy vehicle crashes. Recent industry data suggests that one in ten heavy vehicle crashes results from heavy vehicle driver fatigue.
 
Recognising that innovative solutions are necessary to combat this problem, The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is undertaking a trial of fatigue safety-related technologies to gain a greater understanding of how they work and are used.
 
The preliminary review of Fatigue/Distraction Detection Technology, released this month, has shown that the technology has the potential to boost heavy vehicle safety, but should be used as part of a Fatigue Risk Management System and not in isolation. Technologies used included fitness for duty tests, continuous operator monitoring, performance-based monitoring, and vehicle-related technologies.

The summary of preliminary report is available here, and we look forward to their final conclusions in June 2020!

 

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What is blue light?

Apr 03, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

Blue light is the higher energy, shorter wavelengths on the visible light spectrum. It occurs naturally, with the highest levels occurring during the middle of the day. Blue light is also emitted from devices such as smartphones, tablets and computers, and white-coloured LED lights.


 

So if it occurs naturally, blue light can't be that bad for us, right? Blue light is necessary to set and regulate our circadian rhythm, which is done so by photoreceptor cells in our eyes. Therefore, exposure to blue light during daytime hours is certainly a positive. We can also use exposure to blue light in the morning to advance our circadian rhythm, helping those who want to move their sleep to an earlier time - a great way to avoid jet lag!

But too much blue light exposure from our devices later on in the day and throughout the night can delay and disrupt our circadian rhythm, causing sleep disruptions and potential fatigue. Exposure to bright daylight outside may reduce the sensitivity of the circadian system to light exposure at night, but we still recommend to put your devices down before heading to bed, and perhaps relaxing with some tunes or a good book!

For more information on blue light, contact us via Facebook , LinkedIn , Twitter or comment below.
 

 

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Is your clock running on time?

Mar 20, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

Here at ISS, we’re often on the road seeing clients. One thing we always pack is our exercise gear. Squeezing in a daily workout is a top priority, especially if we are overseas. We feel it helps with counteracting any jet lag we may have. And now, we have research to back us up!

A recent study has found that exercise can shift our circadian rhythm, with the direction and amount of this effect depending on the time of day or night in which we exercise.

The study involved examining exercise and melatonin levels in 101 participants for up to five and a half days. It was found that exercising at 0700 or between 1300 & 1600 advanced the body clock to an earlier time, and exercising between 1900 & 2200 delayed the body clock to a later time.

So if you’re looking to help minimise your jet lag, or even get yourself back in sync after a block of shift, get those running shoes on at those specified times!

 

For more information on exercise, contact us via Facebook , LinkedIn , Twitter or comment below.


 

 

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Is fatigue costing your business?

Mar 06, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

 

Fatigue can be a hidden risk in the workplace, costing businesses millions of dollars a year. According to the Sleep Health Foundation, it is estimated that 7.4 million Australian adults do not regularly get the sleep they need, resulting in productivity losses of $17.9 billion.

Lack of sleep significantly reduces productivity within the workplace through absenteeism, presenteeism and decreased engagement. This also increases the risk of errors and injury in the workplace.

Fatigue can impact those who:

  • Sleep fewer hours than recommended (due to work and/or personal factors)
  • Shift work
  • Frequently work extended hours
  • Travel for work
  • Work multiple jobs

Things you can do to reduce the likelihood of fatigue in the workplace include:

For more information on fatigue in the workplace, contact us via Facebook , LinkedIn , Twitter or comment below.
 


 

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Mental health & sleep

Jan 30, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

There is a close relationship between mental health and sleep. Poor sleep can be both a symptom and a cause of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. Therefore living with a mental health condition can affect the quality and quantity of sleep, which in turn can have a negative impact on your mental health.

The vicious cycle of lack of sleep leads to one being tired throughout the day, making it difficult to cope with day-to-day life. The inability to cope lowers one’s self-esteem, increasing stress and again leading to lack of sleep.

Sleep disorders, such as insomnia, are often experienced by those suffering from mental health conditions. Insomniacs sleep less overall and do not spend adequate time in the deeper parts of sleep, including REM. The REM stage of sleep is a restorative part of our sleep cycle, providing emotional and cognitive benefits. REM sleep allows us to regulate our emotions, maintain our memory capability and make good judgments. Without REM sleep, we tend to be moodier & irrational, suffer from memory lapses and are more inclined to make poor decisions. It’s easy to see how important REM sleep is, particularly for those suffering from mental health conditions.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are a type of medication that is most commonly used to combat depression and anxiety and essentially increase serotonin in the brain. A recent study on those who take SSRIs has shown that the medication is more effective on people who are early risers compared to night owls. It is believed that night owls tend to have more irregular schedules and are also exposed to less light in the morning and more in the evening, resulting in out of sync circadian rhythms. SSRIs boost how the body clock responds to light. Therefore, irregular schedules and light exposure would make SSRIs less effective. Along with seeking professional medical support and making lifestyle changes, we would suggest ensuring morning natural light exposure where possible, as well as keeping a more consistent schedule where possible.

If you are suffering from sleep disorders and mental health issues, do not hesitate to see your doctor. For more information, contact us via Facebook , LinkedIn , Twitter or comment below.
 

 

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