Yesterday, we talked about the risks and costs of worker fatigue. Today, we focus on what you can do to deal with it before it causes an accident.
One encouraging sign of action on the issue of worker fatigue is a 2012 guidance document published by an American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) task force. The document provides guidelines for creating a Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS) in the workplace.
An FRMS should be data-driven and feature flexible strategies that are appropriate to the risk and the nature of the business.
The ACOEM task force identified five levels of defense against accidents and errors caused by fatigue. When taken together, these provide a supporting framework for an FRMS.
1. Staffing. One of the most important but overlooked causes of employee fatigue is an imbalance between workload and staffing levels. If staffing levels are lower than optimal, employees have to work additional hours or extra shifts. But overtime is often not evenly distributed. Investigators looking into the tragic BP refinery explosion in Texas (15 deaths and 170 injuries) found that control room operators were working their 30th consecutive shift.
2. Shiftwork. The ACOEM recommends a combination of three strategies to reduce fatigue during shiftwork:
- Design schedules that permit frequent opportunities to get nighttime sleep to recover from sleep deprivation on the night shift.
- Train workers to make maximum use of daytime sleep opportunities through naps and other tactics.
- Use environmental and task engineering that maximizes alertness on the job.
All the safety training you need in one program: 25 subjects, one low price. It’s BLR’s Safety Training Presentations. Try it out and get a Free Special Report. Get the details.
3. Employee training and sleep disorder management. Employees should be trained in the prevalence, impact, and health risks of sleep disorders. They should also learn about recommended practices, such as:
- Wake up at the same time every day, if possible.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine before bed.
- Exercise, but not within 3 hours of going to bed.
- Sleep in a dark, quiet, cool room.
- Keep a sleep diary to record sleep patterns and problems.
- Nap, but not if you suffer from insomnia.
To manage sleep disorders in the workplace, ACOEM says that the first step is to screen for sleep disorders through a questionnaire, possibly combined with a physical exam.
Treatment can include:
- Behavior modification
- Continuous positive airway pressure (C-PAP) equipment
Some transportation companies have seen a 30% drop in accidents and costs after implementing a workplace sleep disorder program.
4. Work environment. Take steps to increase employee alertness, including changes in:
- Ergonomic design
Other recommendations include providing breaks for:
Heavy, fatiguing work may require more breaks than lighter activity, and workers whose jobs require constant vigilance may need extra breaks to sustain their attention.
Try Safety Training Presentations at no cost and no risk. For a limited time, also get a Free Special Report! Find out more.
5. Individual risk assessment. Employees and supervisors should be alert to signs of excess fatigue. Co-workers should keep an eye on those they work with. Supervisors should have authority to take steps like encouraging a rest break, shifting safety-sensitive activities to others, or using a buddy approach to improve alertness.
The most practical way to identify risk is to be aware of signs of excessive fatigue such as:
- Drooping eyelids
- Head dropping
- Lapses in attention
- Accidentally doing the wrong thing
- Failing to communicate important information
To monitor signs of fatigue, some organizations use peer observation teams like those used for other types of safety surveillance, such as behavioral safety observations.
To download the ACOEM’s Fatigue Risk Management in the Workplace guide, go to www.ACOEM.org.
Too Tired to Develop Your Own Training Materials? No Problem!
If you’ve been looking for easy-to-use, high-quality click and train computer-based safety training, look no more. You’ve found it right here! So rest easy.
Safety Training Presentations gets you off to a good start with 25 core PowerPoint® safety presentations, each one responsive to either an OSHA training requirement or to common causes of workplace accidents. All are customizable, so you can add your specific hazards or safety policies.
Each lesson also includes completion certificates, sign-in sheets, evaluation forms, and training records. In short, it contains everything you need to motivate, reinforce, retain, and transfer new knowledgeand document that you did so.
Safety Training Presentations topics covered include:
- Bloodborne Pathogens
- Back Safety
- Emergency Action
- Fire Prevention
- Portable Power Tool Safety
- Forklift Operator Safety
- Confined Space Safety
- Fall Protection
- Respiratory Protection
- and more!
Of course, training needs change as OSHA introduces new requirements or as new work practices and technologies bring new hazards. To cover this, you receive a new CD every 90 days you’re in the program, each containing five additional or updated topics.
Just as important for those on a budget (and who isn’t these days?), the cost of these presentations works out to under $20 each.
We’ve arranged for Advisor subscribers to get a no-cost, no-obligation look at Safety Training Presentations for 30 days. Feel free to try a few lessons with your own trainees. Please let us know, and we’ll be glad to set it up.