Integrated Safety Support
Sign up to stay informed

The Fatigue Insider Blog

Fatigue and mining: Digging into the issue

Feb 12, 2020 ISS Comments (0)

Across heavy industry, including mining, fatigue has been shown to be the greatest single cause of workplace accidents. As such, addressing fatigue in miners is an issue of safety as well as an issue of productivity and employee wellbeing. An employee that is fatigued is one whose decision making, fine-motor skills, and emotional stability are severely limited. This can have far-reaching consequences for the individual, for their co-workers, and even for the wider environment.

The mining industry often uses shift-work schedules in order to maintain a productive mine 24/7. We know that shift-workers are at a high risk of being fatigued, whether that be in the long or short term. Just one night of interrupted sleep can cause a decline in cognitive ability, alertness, and slower reaction times. In fact, we know that up to 65% of truck driving accidents in open pit mines are fatigue-related.

In the long-term, fatigue can contribute to chronic health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Underground miners working in an environment without natural light are at an even higher risk of being fatigued, especially if they work nightshifts, as their circadian rhythms and sleeping patterns can be disrupted by the lack of blue light their eyes are able to absorb.

Many of the risks associated with fatigue can be minimised if mine operators take a proactive and preventive approach. Implementing a Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS) to control worker schedules and help limit shift work and excessive overtime can address many of the fatigue-related issues faced by miners.

If would like to read more on this topic, check out this article in Mining and Engineering titled ‘Mineworker fatigue: A review of what we know and future decisions’: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5983045/


READ MORE
US Worksite Health ScoreCard to include fatigue

Jan 22, 2020 ISS Comments (0)

 

In a step in the right direction, the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) updated their Worksite Health ScoreCard in 2019 to include sleep and fatigue questions for the first time since it was introduced in 2012. The tool is for employers to assess whether they have implemented evidence-based health and wellbeing programs in their workplace.
 
The ScoreCard is comprehensive in nature and not intended to be a quick 'tick and flick' tool. As such, the inclusion of fatigue and sleep section signals that the CDC is taking this factor seriously in the provision of a safe and hazard-free workplace.
 
The new fatigue and sleep section includes questions on whether the workplace has written policy on scheduling that aims to reduce employee fatigue, the provision of educational materials and screenings related to sleep and common sleep disorders, as well as whether there are solutions offered to combat drowsy and distracted driving.
 
Introducing sleep and fatigue concerns into this ScoreCard alongside other important health risks like nutrition, diabetes, physical exercise, cancer, heart attacks and many others is a positive step in the right direction. It serves as an indication to employers of the importance of fatigue-related workplace concerns for the health, safety, and productivity of employees.

 

READ MORE
Should truck drivers be tested for sleep apnea?

Jan 15, 2020 ISS Comments (0)

 

The results of a 2018 survey found that half of commercial truck drivers suffer from breathing disorders that could make them more susceptible to falling asleep at the wheel. This startling insight, gained through a survey of over 900 Italian truck drivers, has prompted many to call for routine testing of breathing disorders, particularly obstructive sleep apnoea.
 
Luca Roberti, in response to this survey, made an appeal to European haulage companies in a presentation at the European Respiratory Society international congress, “considering that drivers are in charge of transport vehicles weighing several tons, companies have a great moral and civic responsibility to ensure their employees are safe to drive and are not at risk of suddenly falling asleep at the wheel.”
 
Similar statistics have been recorded in an Australian context, with a study in Sleep found that 41% of truck drivers suffer from OSA. Some of the contributing factors to this are the demography of Australian truck drivers, who are overwhelmingly male, overweight or obese, and 40+, all of which a risk factors for the development of OSA.
 
Research has shown that a driver who is deprived of sleep due to OSA may be up to 12 times more likely to be involved in a driving accident.
 
The good news is that routine screenings followed by appropriate treatment can be a highly effective way to address this issue. A 2016 study in the Journal of Sleep Medicine showed that truck drivers with OSA who receive treatment for two years may be able to reduce their crash-risk to that of truck drivers without OSA.
 
You can access the article “Assessing sleepiness and sleep disorders in Australian long-distance commercial vehicle drivers: self-report versus an “at home” monitoring device” in Sleep here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3296788/
 
You can access the article “Screening, diagnosis, and management of obstructive sleep apnea in dangerous-goods truck drivers: to be aware or not?” in the Journal of Sleep Medicine here: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2016.05.015

 

 

READ MORE
London’s Buses commit to combatting fatigue

Nov 27, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

 

 
Transport for London (TFL) recently announced a range of measures to address fatigue among bus drivers, which has been reported as a factor in several incidents involving London’s buses.
 
In the five years from January 2014, almost 5,000 people were injured by crashes involving a TFL contracted bus and 49 were killed.
 
TFL said that it would make £500,000 in new funding available for London Bus operators to trial new technology and introduce innovative solutions that change the safety culture within bus garages and increase the focus on driver health and wellbeing.
 
This includes rigorous fatigue risk management systems for any company operating London buses and fatigue training for all managers. These systems are intended to assess the tiredness of drivers and provide processes for managing and reporting it when it occurs.
 
A TFL commissioned report on the subject of driver fatigue discovered that more than one-third of drivers had what they described as “a close call” when driving a bus because of their weariness.
 
This is absolutely a step in the right direction and will likely benefit drivers, operators, and the general public.

 

READ MORE
Is a midnight snack the key to staying alert?

Nov 06, 2019 ISS Comments (0)


A recent study by researchers at the University of South Australia looked at how food intake can affect those working the nightshift. By testing the impact of a snack, a meal, or no food at all, the study found that a simple snack was the best choice for maximising alertness and productivity.

The study looked at a small group of 44 nightshift workers over a week, dividing them into groups to test three different midnight eating patterns: a meal, a snack, and no food. They were then asked to report on their levels of hunger, gut reaction and sleepiness.
 
It found that all participants reported increased sleepiness and fatigue, but those who had a snack reduced the impact of those feelings. Additionally, the snack group did not experience the same uncomfortable gut reactions as the group that ate a meal.
 
In today’s 24/7 economy, working the nightshift is increasingly common, with industries like health care, aviation, transport and mining needing employees to work around the clock. Of Australia’s 1.4 million shift workers, over 200,000 (15%) regularly work the nightshift. Upsetting the body’s circadian rhythm in this way can be a real health and safety risk, which is why robust fatigue management needs to be in place for employee wellbeing as well as productivity.
 
Lead researcher Charlotte Gupta said that the next step is research into how different types of snacks could affect night shift workers. She says that the findings have to potential to affect thousands of shift workers; “the findings will inform the most strategic eating patterns on-shift and can hopefully contribute to more alert and better performing workers.”
 
The study can be accessed here.

 

 

READ MORE
Developments in trucking laws: Fatigue risk management

Oct 30, 2019 ISS Comments (0)


 

The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NVHR) is calling for more flexibility in fatigue rules in its submission to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) review being conducted by the National Transport Commission.

The implementation of the submission would allow operators with demonstrably robust fatigue management systems more flexibility to manage fatigue risks. This could mean a change in framework and culture surrounding fatigue management, allowing it to expand from basic prescriptive work and rest hours.
 
Dr Adam Fletcher said, “Fatigue management is about much more than work hours and sleep. It also relates to workload, individual factors including health and sleep timing preferences, and the ability for drivers to be flexible when they feel it is safer...This development reflects a closer alignment with the point I have made publicly and with regulators for many years.”
 
NHVR CEO, Sal Petroccitto said, “the NHVR believes that prescriptive work and rest hours should still play a role in providing a minimum ‘safe harbour’ for drivers, but that a multi-tiered approach to fatigue risk management would allow flexibility for operators who take up additional, new or innovative safety practices.”
 
Current laws reduced fatigue-related crashes between 2003 and 2009, but "the rate of heavy vehicle crashes caused by driver fatigue" has been stable since then. An expansion in the scope of fatigue management to include factors like workload, health, and driver autonomy could bring the rate of fatigue-related crashes down further.

 

READ MORE
NASA test could keep an eye on sleep deprivation

Oct 09, 2019 ISS Comments (0)

 

A new study conducted at NASA’s Ames Research Centre in California identified a simple and easily obtainable set of eye movement measurements that can provide accurate insights into whether a person is sleep-deprived.
 
Participants spent two weeks on regular 8.5 hours per night sleep schedule and abstained from alcohol, drugs, and caffeine so that they were sure they started the experiment from the same baseline. Then participants spent up to 28 hours awake, where they were tested periodically to monitor how their visual and eye-movement performance changed.
 
The researchers found that when participants were asked to track stimuli with unpredictable onset, direction, speed and starting location, human eye movements were dramatically impaired.
 
These findings have important implications for people working in high-pressure jobs such as surgeons, military personnel, and truck drivers. These measures could be used to assess individuals working nightshifts.
 
Lee Stone, senior author on the study said: "There are significant safety ramifications for workers who may be performing tasks that require precise visual coordination of one's actions when sleep deprived or during night shifts. By looking at a wide variety of components of human eye movements, we could not only detect sleepiness but also distinguish it from other factors, such as alcohol use or brain injury, that we have previously shown cause subtly different deficits in eye movements."
 
Access the study in the Journal of Physiology here.

 

 

 

 


 

READ MORE
1 2 3 4