HSE Human Factors Briefing Note No

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10 Fatigue Briefing Note 1 Introd cing Human Factors e plains the background to these Briefing Notes Fatigue doe s not have a clear scientific definition but is gener ally a feeling of tiredness and being unable to pe rform work e ffectively Spec ID: 24251 Download Pdf

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HSE Human Factors Briefing Note No

10 Fatigue Briefing Note 1 Introd cing Human Factors e plains the background to these Briefing Notes Fatigue doe s not have a clear scientific definition but is gener ally a feeling of tiredness and being unable to pe rform work e ffectively Spec

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HSE Human Factors Briefing Note No




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HSE Human Factors Briefing Note No. 10 Fatigue Briefing Note 1 – ‘Introd cing Human Factors’ e plains the background to these Briefing Notes. Fatigue doe s not have a clear scientific definition but is gener ally a feeling of tiredness and being unable to pe rform work e ffectively. Specifica lly, a fatigued per son will be l ss alert, le ss able to process in fo rmation, will have slower reaction tim s and less i terest in w rking compared to a person who is not fatigu ed. Case st udies Research in to accident s on day, afternoon and night shifts a two paint plants showe that

there was a significant increase in accident s, p rticularly in the last 3 h ours of the shift. The frequency of injuries in an engin eering company increased from the morning to the afternoon shift and ag ain from the afternoon to the night sh ift. Also, the e were more accident s during the la st two compared to the first two shifts o a weekly rotating shift system. This suggest t hat operators do not adjust to shifts over successive nights and t hat more rapidly rotatin shifts would be better. Frequent overtime can increase accident risks a nd so can lo ng hours at work. For the first 8 or

9 hours in a shift, the accident risk is constant, but after 12 hou rs, the risk a pproximatel y doubles and after 16 hou rs, it treble Source: Ref. 1 Shift-workers, particularly those on rotating shift , have a higher inciden ce of sick le ave, a higher rate of visits to clinics at the work site, a nd poorer scores on a variety of mea ures of hea lth. In one study, 62% of shift-workers complained of sleep probl ems, compared wit 20% of da y-workers. Shift- workers, and particularly night-workers, have a hi gher incid ence of dige stive disord ers than day- workers, and a number of studies h

ve indicate d t hat they also have a slightly higher incidence o cardiovascular disease. Shift-work may also be a risk factor in such preg nancy outcomes as low birth weight and pre-term births. Source: Occupational Sa fety and He alth Service New Zealand (1998). ISBN 0-477-03604-X HSE Concerns x Fatigue can ultimately lead to operat or errors or violations at work. It is of ten a root ca use of major accident s. x Sites should focus on th e system for controlling excessive working hours, especially for staff involved in major hazard work. Fatigu should be managed like any other hazard. x The

legal du ty is on employers to manage risks fr om fatigue, irrespective of any individual’s willin gness to wo rk extra hours or preference for certain shift pattern s for social r easons. x Changes to working hours need to b risk assessed.
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Our compa manage s fatigue as much as possible b making sure that: x Working ho urs are not t oo long x Employees get enough rest between shifts x Employees don’t work t oo many nig t shifts in a row x Managers negotiate wit staff about overtime or double shift working x Managers fit in with individuals’ prefe ences – so me people prefer

nights x Employees avoid critical jobs at the ends of shif or at ‘low points’ in th e day or night e.g. 3a.m. x Shifts rotate ‘forwards’ t hat is, mornings, then aft rnoons, the nights x Employees t ke quality r st breaks in their work x Anyone can report fatigu e problems to management and the company wil make improve en ts x The environment doesn’t cause dro siness (it s light with visual intere st , not too hot and there is alw ys variation in the level of sound) x There are contingency plans to avoid over loading one person with overtime or double shifts x Incidents or accident s where

fatigue may be resp onsible are t horoughly investigated Learning more about fatigue A great deal of research has been do ne into the causes and managemen t of fatigue a nd yet it is st ill poorly understood. For t is reason, t he suggestions below should be co nsidered as guideline b sed on the most useful material available. If fatigue is a problem in your workplace, con idering the information below should help you identify this and suggest some possible solut ons. What can cause fatigue? The main factors are: x Loss of slee p – ‘acute’, r example, having 5 hours sleep in stead of the usual

8; or ‘cumulative having 7 hours sleep in stead of the usual 8 over each of sev ral days x Poor quality sleep – lot of interruptio ns x Having to work at a ‘low point’ in th day e.g. early hours of the morning; mid to late afternoon a nd after a meal x Long workin g hours, par ticularly if th ese are as long as 14 to 16 hours x Poorly-designed shift wo rk x Inadequate breaks durin g the workin g day What are the main effect s of fatigue? Compared with their no rmal state, a fatigued per son will: x Find it hard t : concentra te, make cle r decision or take in a nd act on infor ation x Have

more frequent lapses of attention or memo ry x React more slowly (for exampl e, to h zards arising in the workplace) x Make more errors x Occasionally fall asleep at work – momentarily o for several minutes
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x Have little motivation or interest in their work x Be irritable How can we avoid or reduce fatigue? x Make sure employees have the opportunity to sleep for at least 8 hours between shifts x Encourage employees to develop good sleeping habits x Restrict night shifts to 4 in a row or to 2 in a row if they are 12 hour shifts x Allow at least 2 days off after nights x Make

sure shifts ‘rotate forwards’ - mornings, followed by afternoons followed by nights x Avoid long shifts and too much overtime: aim for less than 50 hours work per week (i.e. comply with the EU Working Hours Directive) x Arrange for quality breaks during the working day x Consider personal preferences – some people are ‘morning people’ some are ‘night people (larks/owls) x Consider allowing some ‘napping’ at work to restore performance but beware of a person working immediately after a nap – they will be less effective for between 30 minutes and an hour x Arrange for more interesting and varied

work to be done at night and at other low points but make sure these are not too demanding or too monotonous/repetitive Additional points to note x Individuals are not good at assessing how fatigued they are x They can be skilled at coping with fatigue, but this can increase stress or the risk of gastric disorders or other health problems x Shorter and more shifts may not solve the problem – errors rise early on, diminish, then peak later References 1. HSE (1999). ‘Validation and Development of a Method for Assessing the Risks Arising from Mental Fatigue’. Contract Research Report 254/1999.

ISBN 0 7176 1728 9 2. HSE (2004 pending) ‘Managing Shiftwork: Health and Safety Guidance for Employers