Thursday, 06 November 2014 22:36

Fatigued Workers: 5 Influencing Factors

Drowsy Driving and Fatigue
New research from the AAA Foundation suggests that driver fatigue is involved in 20% of all fatal accidents (AAA Foundation, 2014). This finding is based on a representative sample of 14,268 crashes that occurred between 2009 – 2013.

This statistic is dramatically higher than the 2.5% incidence rate that was reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2011. The actual incidence rate is challenging to pinpoint, due to discrepancies in data collection methods; however, fatalities in fatigue-related accidents has been estimated to be around 15-33% (Masten, Sutts, & Martel, 2006; Tefft & AAA Foundation, 2010).

According to a 2011 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of almost 75,000 adults, 38% reported inadvertently falling asleep during the day at least once in the past month and 4.7% reported nodding off or falling asleep while driving at least once in the past month.

These microsleeps, which generally last anywhere from 2 to 20 seconds, can result in devastating consequences for an employer in terms of loss of life, injuries, and financial implications.
Below we cover five major factors that can influence the likelihood of a fatigue-related accident taking place.

Five Influencing Factors

1. Time of Day

Night workers are 3x more likely to have a fatigue-related driving accident. Previous research has found he highest number of fatigue-related accidents occur between the hours of midnight and 6 AM, as shown in Figure 1. (AAA study, J. Stutts, UNC 1999).

It’s important to note that serious fatigue-related accidents can occur at any point in the day, at high noon on a sunny day.

 Figure 1: Fatigue Related Accidents vs Time of Day
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2. Hours Awake

After being awake for over 18 hours, an individual’s degree of cognitive impairment is equivalent to someone with a 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC), which is double the legally intoxicated limit for commercial driving purposes. Impairment rises to an equivalent BAC of 0.10% after 24 hours of sustained wakefulness (Williamson & Feyer, 2000).

3.Underlying Sleep Disorders

Untreated sleep disorders, like obstructive sleep apnea, can significantly increase the likelihood of a fatigue-related accident.

Studies have shown that individuals with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have a 40% increased rate of daytime sleepiness (Ulfberg, 1996) and 2x as many traffic accidents per mile as individuals without OSA (Horstmann, 2000).

CIRCADIAN’s databases (containing data from more than 10,000 shift workers) show that 11% of shift workers have OSA and 15% display key symptoms of OSA or other sleep disorders related to excessive sleepiness.

4.Rotating vs Fixed Shift Schedules

Workers with rotating shifts are twice as likely to have a fatigue-related driving accident as compared to workers on fixed shift schedules (AAA study, J. Stutts, UNC 1999).

Shift schedules that don’t allow for adequate rest periods between shifts can also increase the likelihood of a fatigue-related accident.

5.Adjustment to Shiftwork Lifestyle

Non-adapted shiftworkers report feeling drowsy and nodding off while working three times more often than adapted shift workers, and making mistakes and errors four times more often (CIRCADIAN, 2003).

Preventing Drowsy Driving

There are strategies that can be implemented to reduce the risk of drowsy driving among company drivers, such as:

  • Fatigue management software
  • Shift schedule optimization
  • Managing a shiftwork lifestyle training
  • Fatigue countermeasures
  • Sleep Disorder Screenings

Many companies have experienced dramatic benefits in terms of decreased accident rates, costs, and increased employee retention after implementing fatigue risk management solutions.

CASE STUDY

Nine months after implementing CIRCADIAN fatigue risk management solutions, Dupre’ Logistics had the following results:
  • 89% reduction in fatigue-related accidents
  • Over $1 million saved in accident-related costs
  • 50% reduction in driver turnover and absenteeism
Learn More About Dupre' Logistics Story

Download our FREE White Paper

Managing Driver Fatigue: A Risk-Informed, Performance-Based Approach

Managing Driver Fatigue
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About CIRCADIAN®

CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock. Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research and technology, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations in the 24-hour economy optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of their extended hours operations.

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The dangers of a sleep deprived workforce have been clearly demonstrated throughout research; however, the association between sleep quality and work injury risk has been an open question of interest among researchers.

Conflicting results have come from studies examining the variables that potentially modulate the association between sleep quality and workplace injuries. A recent meta-analysis of 27 observational studies found that sleep problems increase the risk of workplace injuries by 62 percent (Uehli et al., 2014).

Because of this, Swiss researchers looked to better understand the relationship between sleep problems and workplace injuries. Their findings, which were recently published in the Journal of Sleep Research, provide valuable insights into the relationship between sleep problems and the risk of work injuries.

We summarize and highlight the valuable, key points this research publication.

Goal of Study

According to the authors, "the aim of the study was to provide further evidence for the relationship between sleep quality and work injury and to identify factors that may modify this association.

Factors considered for the effect modification were gender, age, job risk, shift or night work, sleep duration, weekly working hours and co-morbid conditions."

Study Population

The case-control study included 180 cases and 551 controls, all of whom were recruited through the emergency department of the University Hospital in Basil, Switzerland.

To be included in the study, participants were required to meet the following criteria:

1. Age between 18 to 65 years

2. Hospital admission from a work injury that had occurred within the previous 48 hours

3. Moderate or severe work injury

4. Proficient in German

5. Adequate general mental condition to complete the questionnaire

Measurements

The well-validated and scientifically accepted Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was used to retrospectively measure sleep quality in the four weeks prior to the work injury. Poor sleep quality was defined as a PSQI score greater than 5.

Work injuries were defined according to Swiss law, and excludes repetitive strain injuries and commuting accidents.

Variables that were measured included:

  • Sleep quality based on PSQI Score (>5 = poor sleep quality)
  • Objectively diagnosed sleep disorders (self-reported)
  • Reported sleep duration
  • Type of work injury (8 categories)
  • Sociodemographic factors (gender, age, highest education and occupational status)
  • Work-related questions (primary job, shift or night work, weekly working hours and perceived work stress)

Research Findings

There was a dose-response relationship between sleep problem severity and the odds of a workplace injury occurring.

Workers were 2x more likely to suffer a work injury if diagnosed with a sleep disorder.

Workers with a diagnosed sleep disorder AND suffering from poor sleep quality had a 3x greater risk of a work injury.

For each 1 unit increase in PSQI score, work injury risk increased by 20-30% among participants who were:

  • Males 
  • Older workers (>30 years) 
  • Participants with high risk jobs
  • Working 50 hours per week or more 
  • Daytime workers
  • Short sleepers (

Also, for each 1 unit increase in PSQI score, the likelihood of previous work injuries increased by 12%.

Research Implications 

These findings are relevant and valuable because:

  • An increasing number of older individuals in the workforce (Auer and Fortuny, 2000)
  • An increasing number of people working long hours (Jacobs and Gerson, 2004) 
  • A decreasing average sleep duration among the general population (Kronholm et al., 2008)

Want to learn more about fatigue and workplace safety? 

Interested in how worker fatigue is impacting your workers? Check out a few of our articles and white papers that highlight important fatigue & safety finding. 

Relevant articles from CIRCADIAN's Shifting Work Perspectives:

CIRCADIAN White Papers

Biocompatible Shift Scheduling                 The Myths & Realities of Fatigue
Biocompatible Shift Scheduling Myths & Realities of Fatigue White Paper

CIRCADIAN® FRMS and 24/7 Workforce Solutions

CIRCADIAN is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock.  Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations in 24/7 workforces optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of their extended hours operations.

As escalating health care costs continue to significantly impact on corporate profits, many companies are realizing that proactive measures must be taken to manage these costs.

According to CIRCADIAN studies on financial costs associated with 24/7 operations, U.S. businesses spend an additional $36.5 billion annually on health care to support 24/7 operations.1

In most cases, the distinct health risks faced by shiftworkers can be controlled, monitored and potentially reduced through a collaborative effort of both management and workers.

Knowing these crucial factors will facilitate the design of programs that improve employee health and enhance productivity while also reducing the costs, risks and liabilities of shiftwork operations.

1. Gender

Gender has been recognized as a factor affecting shiftwork tolerance, as several studies have found that men have a greater tolerance for shiftwork than women.2

Several studies have reported that female shiftworkers tend to have more sleep-related problems than male shift workers.4,5,6,7

In particular, one study found that female shiftworkers report difficulties falling asleep, problems with insomnia and using sleeping aids to fall asleep more frequently than male shift workers.2, 4

Sleep & Gender

Because female shiftworkers report needing more sleep than men, a large disparity exists between women and men in terms of perceived sleep needs and obtained sleep.

Not surprisingly, the major problem is related to the night shift. While male and female shiftworkers report getting similar amounts of sleep when working the morning and evening shifts, 48% of female workers get six hours of sleep or less when working the night shift, compared to 41% of men (Figure 1).3

Figure 1: Sleep duration for men and women across different shifts3

Shift Type and Hours of Sleep  

Gender differences in sleep quality also occur on the night shift. Twenty-eight percent (28%) of female shiftworkers report “poor” sleep when working the night shift, compared to just 20% of male shift workers.3

Fatigue at Work

Female shiftworkers report feeling tired while working more frequently than their male counterparts.3

However, male shiftworkers report nodding off and making mistakes while working more often than women.3

2. Age

Problems with work performance tend to increase with age, the critical age being 40-50 years, when based on measures of subjective sleepiness, performance tests, recovery after work and sleep time.2

However, in terms of the risk of developing shiftwork related health problems and shiftwork tolerance, research studies report more favorable outcomes for older workers.3

This may be due to the “healthy shift worker effect”, in which older workers represent the individuals who are healthier and have always been better at coping with shift work, even at a younger age. Previous experience with shiftwork clearly influences one’s tolerance to shift work.

Overall, adjustment to shift schedules seems to improve with age and shiftwork experience. The percentage of shiftworkers reporting that their health would improve with a different schedule decreases from 51% for the group 25-34 years old, to 27% for workers aged 55 or older.3

3. Circadian Profile

A person’s “circadian profile” tends to affect shiftwork adaptation. Three main characteristics have been extensively evaluated: morningness/eveningness, flexibility of sleeping habits, and one’s ability to overcome drowsiness.

Morningness/Eveningness

Morning types, or “larks,” are naturally more alert in the morning than in the evening, and their circadian rhythms (temperature, alertness, etc.) reach a maximum earlier in the day. The opposite is true for evening types, or “owls.”

Scientists have demonstrated that morningness/eveningness is linked to a specific set of genes.

Morningness is also associated with an increased rigidity in sleep patterns—morning types find it more difficult to sleep during the morning than evening types, which further decreases morning types’ adaptation to night work.3

Shiftworkers in 24/7 operations who prefer to get up late (after 9 a.m.)—evening types—report sleeping more hours and getting better sleep on the night shift.3

Surprisingly, evening types report more problems adapting to their work schedule.3

Flexibility of Sleep Habits

Flexibility of sleep habits indicates an individual’s self-perceived ability to sleep at different times during the day or night. The ability to overcome drowsiness defines their ability to sustain alertness.

Ability to Overcome Drowsiness

Researchers have found that the ability to overcome drowsiness is the best indicator of shiftwork tolerance after three years of shiftwork.3

Both flexibility of sleep habits and ability to overcome drowsiness have been found to be related to a better long term shiftwork tolerance.3

4. Psychological and Behavioral Factors

Personality

Two psychological factors, extroversion/introversion and neuroticism, have been widely studied in relation to shiftwork tolerance. Several studies have found that extroverts adjust somewhat faster than introverts to shift work.2

However, neither extroversion nor neuroticism have any value in predicting adaptation to shift work.2

Locus of Control

Locus of control (that is, the internal versus external attribution of control with regard to managing problems) has recently been introduced as a factor affecting shiftwork tolerance – especially in regards to one’s locus of control in terms of shift work.

Internal locus of control (when the individual feels that rewarding experiences are contingent upon their own behavior and attributes) has been associated with better shiftworktolerance.3

Commitment to Shiftwork

Individual strategies for coping with shiftwork have been evaluated and seem to be a promising factor in predicting shiftwork tolerance.

Commitment to shiftwork means that workers are willing to schedule their lives around working non-traditional hours. Correct sleeping habits, appropriate exposure to bright light, good nutritional practices, and physical exercise may all have a crucial effect on shiftwork tolerance.

In fact, “commitment to shift work” has been cited by several authors as the most important individual factor affecting shiftworktolerance.3

5. Social Factors

Family and social factors can also affect one’s adaptation to shift work. It’s evident that the support spousal or partner support plays a pivotal role in the one’s adaptation to shift work.

Not surprisingly, the presence of children increases domestic responsibilities and may result in more difficulties adapting to a shiftwork lifestyle.

Shiftworkers with good family lives report better health status.3 This finding could be related to an absence of family conflict—a recognized source of stress—for these workers.

Long commutes interfere with everyday life, restricting free time and reducing sleep. Workers with commutes that are 45 minutes or longer have been found to report higher stress levels, more health problems, and higher absenteeism rates than workers with commutes of 20 minutes or less.3

Shiftwork Lifestyle Training

Most shiftworkers don’t know how to adjust their lifestyle to minimize the negative effects of working around the clock. As a result, workers’ job performance, safety, health, and family life suffers as company profits and productivity fall.

Training workers on how to manage a shiftwork lifestyle is a powerful tool for improving your employees’ physical and psychological well-being, thereby increasing morale and effectiveness.

In fact, research reports have found that turnover and absenteeism rates are higher in facilities that do not provide some type of shiftwork lifestyle training.

Download Our Free White Paper

Download our complementary CIRCADIAN® white paper, “Shiftwork Lifestyle Training: Employee and Employer Benefits”

Managing a Shiftwork Lifestyle Training alt
About CIRCADIAN®

CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock.  Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research and technology, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations in the 24-hour economy optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of their extended hours operations.

REFERENCES

1.CIRCADIAN. (2003). Financial Opportunities in Extended Hours Operations: Managing Costs, Risks, and Liabilities. Costs based on 2014 inflation rates.

2.Saksvik, I. B., Bjorvatn, B., Hetland, H., Sandal, G. M., & Pallesen, S. (2011). Individual differences in tolerance to shift work–a systematic review. Sleep medicine reviews, 15(4), 221-235.

3.CIRCADIAN. (2003). Health in Extended Hours Operations: Understanding the Challenges, Implementing the Solutions.

4.Marquie, J. C., & Foret, J. (1999). Sleep, age, and shiftwork experience. Journal of sleep research, 8(4), 297-304.

5.Rotenberg, L., Portela, L. F., Marcondes, W. B., Moreno, C., & Nascimento, C. P. (2000). Gender and diurnal sleep in night workers at a Brazilian industry. Shiftwork in the 21 st Century. Challenges for Research and Practice, 305-309.

6.Admi, H., Tzischinsky, O., Epstein, R., Herer, P., & Lavie, P. (2007). Shift work in nursing: is it really a risk factor for nurses' health and patients' safety?. Nursing economic$, 26(4), 250-257.

7.Rouch, I., Wild, P., Ansiau, D., & Marquié, J. C. (2005). Shiftwork experience, age and cognitive performance. Ergonomics, 48(10), 1282-1293.

Friday, 10 October 2014 18:21

Microsleeps: 30 Seconds to Catastrophe

With over 35% of Americans reporting that they receive less than seven hours of sleep per night, it’s not challenging to find people nodding off on the job.1

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of almost 75,000 adults, 38% reported inadvertently falling asleep during the day at least once in the past month and 4.7% reported nodding off or falling asleep while driving at least once in the past month.1

These brief episodes of sleep, known as microsleeps, are extremely dangerous and regularly implicated in fatal accidents.
A better understanding of microsleeps and preventative measures against these episodes will help you to keep your operations and employees safe.

What is a microsleep?

A microsleep is a brief sleep episode that lasts up to 30 seconds, during which a person temporarily loses consciousness and external stimuli aren’t perceived.2

Microsleeps are most commonly associated with sleep deprivation and driving; however, microsleeps can also occur in the absence of sleep deprivation when completing monotonous, repetitive tasks.

How dangerous are microsleeps?

Microsleep episodes can increase on-the-job errors and can become extremely dangerous if episodes occur during tasks that require constant attention, such as operating heavy machinery or driving.

The following video demonstrates just how dangerous microsleeps can be, especially in situations that require fast reaction times.

 

Microsleeps have been implicated in several infamous accidents that resulted in catastrophic damage and loss of life. The following statistics highlight the severity of microsleep episodes:

  • 44% of drivers during late-night driving become dangerously tired.6
  • Fatigue has been an contributing factor in 250 fatalities due to air carrier accidents in last 16 years.7
  • Extremely fatiguing work protocols increase the likelihood of an accident from near 0% to 35%.8
  • Chronic microsleeps not only increase probability for injury but also decrease worker productivity and increase likelihood for absenteeism from work.9

What does a microsleep look like?

The behavioral symptoms of microsleeps are subtle and challenging to detect, however the recognizable signs of a microsleep episode are droopy eyes, slow eyelid closing and eye rolling, and also head nodding.3

Because microsleeps often last just a few seconds, it’s hard to tell from a managerial perspective whether or not a worker is experiencing these episodes.

Are individuals aware that they’ve experienced a microsleep episode?

Individuals who experience microsleeps are often unaware that they briefly lost consciousness and will frequently deny that they fell asleep.4 When an individual arouses from a microsleep episode, it may feel like a brief lapse in attention or mind wandering.

Research suggests that even individuals neurons can experience microsleeps, which means that your parts of the brain may be “offline” even if you’re seemingly awake.5

How can you prevent microsleeps from occurring?

Management can implement fatigue management programs to mitigate, monitor and detect worker fatigue to prevent microsleeps from occurring and potentially causing devastating effects.

An individual can avoid microsleeps by getting sufficient sleep, addressing any existing sleep issues, and taking breaks on tasks that are monotonous.

Is fatigue impacting your workers?

It can be challenging to determine if fatigue is negatively impacting your workforce. Some tell-tale signs of worker fatigue issues can include:

  • Increase in absenteeism rates (especially unexpected absenteeism)
  • Increased errors and accidents
  • Lowered productivity
  • Sluggish employees
  • Increased caffeine consumption among workers

To learn more about fatigue and its impact on 24/7 operations, download our white paper titled "The Myths & Realities of Fatigue"

Myths & Realities of Fatigue alt

CIRCADIAN® FRMS and 24/7 Workforce Solutions

CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock.  Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research and technology, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations in the 24-hour economy optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of their extended hours operations

CIRCADIAN FRMS

REFERENCES

  1. Insufficient Sleep Is a Public Health Epidemic. http://www.cdc.gov/features/dssleep/
  2. International Classification of Sleep Disorders Diagnostic and Coding Manual, http://www.esst.org/adds/ICSD.pdf, page 343
  3. Poudel, G. R., Innes, C. R., Bones, P. J., Watts, R., & Jones, R. D. (2012). Losing the struggle to stay awake: Divergent thalamic and cortical activity during microsleeps. Human Brain Mapping: 00:000-000
  4. Higgins, Laura; Fette Bernie (in press). "Drowsy Driving" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-06-12.
  5. Vyazovskiy, V. V., Olcese, U., Hanlon, E. C., Nir, Y., Cirelli, C., & Tononi, G. (2011). Local sleep in awake rats. Nature, 472(7344), 443-447.
  6. Åkerstedt, T., Hallvig, D., Anund, A., Fors, C., Schwarz, J., & Kecklund, G. (2013). Having to stop driving at night because of dangerous sleepiness–awareness, physiology and behaviour. Journal of sleep research
  7. Pilot fatigue is like 'having too much to drink'. CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2009/TRAVEL/05/15/pilot.fatigue.buffalo.crash/
  8. Sirois, B., Trutschel, U., Edwards, D., Sommer, D., & Golz, M. (2010, January). Predicting Accident Probability from Frequency of Microsleep Events. In World Congress on Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering, September 7–12, 2009, Munich, Germany (pp. 2284-2286). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

 

Worker fatigue may be an issue in your operation – whether you're aware of  it or not.

One-third (33%) of workforce managers believe that fatigue is a moderate or severe problem among their workers.1

However, managing the risks associated with fatigue can be challenging. Serious concerns arise when workers don’t obtain sufficient rest between shifts, which can be due to worker’s behavioral choices, underlying sleep disorders and also due to management decisions (e.g. work schedules and staffing levels).

To some, fatigue might seem like a minor concern, yet it costs companies millions of dollars each year in excess costs, accidents and errors.

Fatigued workers cost employers $136.4 billion annually in health-related lost productive time (absenteeism and presenteeism), almost 4x more than their non-fatigued counterparts.2

Below are six types of excess costs to an operation that are often inflated by the repercussions of worker fatigue. If you are struggling to reduce these operational costs, you may be experiencing the “Iceberg Effect” of fatigue.

Worker Fatigue Iceberg

1. Absenteeism

Absenteeism alone accou

nts for as much as $2,660 in additional costs per year for shift workers as compared to day workers.1

According to 2014 Shiftwork Practices data, only 50% of absences are due to personal illness and family issues, and almost 25% of absences are due to stress and feelings of entitlement.3

2. Compliance-related violations

Sleep deprived individuals have been shown to have trouble with maintaining focus, keeping track of events, maintaining interest in outcomes and attending to activities judged to be non-essential.4

In fact, research suggests that there is a interaction between sleep deprivation and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in which sleep deprivation exacerbates the symptoms of ADHD.5

This means that workers are at a much greater risk of having an oversight that could result in a compliance violation.

3. Lost Productivity

 When sleep deprived, individuals experience performance degradations such as: increased exerted effort to complete tasks, decreased vigilance and slower response time. The average functional level of any sleep deprived individual is comparable to the 9th percentile of non-sleep deprived individuals.4

What is the cost of this lowered productivity? The total annual cost of lost productive time attributed to fatigue in the U.S. workforce has been estimated at $330 million, with 84% of this lost productive time due to reduced performance at work, as opposed to absenteeism.2

4. Increased Errors

When sleep deprived or fatigued, cognitive declines increase concurrently with a worker’s time on a given task, resulting in an increased number of errors. These errors include mistakes of both commission (i.e. performing an act that leads to harm) and omission (i.e. not performing an expected task), which can be disaster for any operation.4

Because of the cognitive slowing that occurs when tired, errors are especially likely in individual-paced and time-sensitive tasks.4

5. Overtime

When absenteeism rates are high, relief coverage is necessary to cover shifts. This means that other workers are required to work substantial amounts of overtime to cover the vacant positions.

Also, there is a vicious cycle between overtime and fatigue. As overtime increases, the fatigue levels rise among workers and the likelihood of a fatigue-related accident increases dramatically.

6. Accidents

Compared to day workers, night workers make five times more serious mistakes and are 20% more likely to suffer a severe work-related accident.6

The Flawed Mentality

Similar to the flawed mentality that the Titanic was an unsinkable ship, many managers consider their successful operations to be unstoppable as well. However, history tells a different story.

History tells the unfortunate tale of the many operations that chose to ignore worker fatigue and suffered loss of life, sky-high costs and catastrophic destruction – as was the case in infamous 1986 Chernobyl disaster, where control room operators working long hours at night to meet a deadline made disastrous decisions.


Chernobyl

Image from boston.com

Fatigue-related error was deemed a contributing factor to the 1986 Chernobyl Disaster.

Solution: Fatigue Risk Management Systems

A fatigue risk management system (FRMS) is a data-driven, risk-informed, safety performance-based program that reduces the risk of fatigue-related incidents in 24/7 operations. An FRMS continually monitors and reduces the risk for fatigue-related accidents.

Fatigue risk management systems (FRMS) fit within an organization’s overall health and safety program and are now the globally-accepted standard for managing the risk of employee fatigue in safety-sensitive businesses.

Download Our Free White Paper!

To learn more about fatigue and its impact on 24/7 operations, download our FREE white paper:

The Myths & Realities of Fatigue

Reducing the Costs, Risks, and Liabilities of Fatigue in 24-Hour Operations
Myths & Realities of Fatigue White Paper
FREE White Paper Download
 

CIRCADIAN® FRMS and 24/7 Workforce Solutions

 CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock.  Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research and technology, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations in the 24-hour economy optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of their extended hours operations.


REFERENCES

  1. CIRCADIAN (2007). Shiftwork Practices 2007.
  2. Ricci, J. A., Chee, E., Lorandeau, A. L., & Berger, J. (2007). Fatigue in the US workforce: prevalence and implications for lost productive work time. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 49(1), 1-10.
  3. CIRCADIAN (2014). Shiftwork Practices 2014.
  4. Durmer, J. S., & Dinges, D. F. (2005, March). Neurocognitive consequences of sleep deprivation. In Seminars in neurology (Vol. 25, No. 1, pp. 117-129).
  5. Owens, J. A. (2005). The ADHD and sleep conundrum: a review. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 26(4), 312-322.
  6. Moore-Ede, M. C. (1993). The twenty-four-hour society: understanding human limits in a world that never stops. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

 

 

 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014 18:24

Would You Hire This Night Shift Manager?

Would You Hire This Night Shift Manager?

How fatigue can turn a good employee into a liability

Night Shift Manager Application
So, would you hire this applicant?

No way! You would NEVER hire this applicant – he’s a nightmare for a company!

So WHY do you let your current workers transform into this worker?

The attributes listed above are just a few of the negative effects of cognitive fatigue and sleep deprivation.

Benchmarking Fatigue Issues

According to CIRCADIAN's 2014 Shift Work Practices survey data, one-third (33%) of workforce managers believe that fatigue is a moderate or severe problem among their workers. To no surprise, these workforces experience significant problems with absenteeism, turnover and excessive overtime.

Figure 1: Worker Fatigue Levels & FRMS Implementation1
SWP Worker Fatigue  FRMS Implementation

Do you have a fatigue risk management system?

Unfortunately, only 10% of workforces have a fully implemented, comprehensive FRMS in place.

Workforces that have implemented fatigue risk management programs experience fewer problems with absenteeism, turnover and excessive overtime. Employees in these workforces have greater morale, less stress, and are more productive workers.

What is a fatigue risk management system?

A fatigue risk management system (FRMS) is a data-driven, risk-informed, safety performance-based program that reduces the risk of fatigue-related incidents in 24/7 operations. An FRMS will continually monitor and reduce fatigue risk.

Figure 2: CIRCADIAN® 5 Defenses FRMS Design
5 Defenses FRMS Screenshot
Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS) fit within an organization’s overall health and safety program and are now the globally-accepted standard for managing the risk of employee fatigue in safety-sensitive businesses.

New laws, regulations and ANSI standards are continually published that require more companies and industries to design and implement an FRMS.

Is fatigue impacting your workers?

It can be challenging to determine if fatigue is negatively impacting your workforce. Some tell-tale signs of worker fatigue issues can include:

  • Increase in absenteeism rates (especially unexpected absenteeism)
  • Increased rates of errors and accidents
  • Lowered productivity
  • Sluggish employees
  • Increased caffeine consumption among workers

Best Fatigue Management Practices

To learn more about best practices of fatigue management and it's role in 24/7 operations, we suggest reading the following informative white papers:

 Shiftwork Lifestyle Training
Biocompatible Shift Scheduling
alt

Also, make sure to check out our ‘Evolution of Fatigue Risk Management’ white paper & infographic which detail how fatigue risk management was conceived, the evolution of FRMS, its scientific basis, and the reasons it has remained under the radar for more than 20 years.

Evolution of FRMS Infographic                             Evolution of FRMS White Paper
FRMS Infographic FRMS White Paper

CIRCADIAN® FRMS and 24/7 Workforce Solutions

CIRCADIAN is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock.  Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations in 24/7 workforces optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of their extended hours operations.

CIRCADIAN Fatigue Risk Management Systems
1. CIRCADIAN Shift Work Practices, 2014
Friday, 12 September 2014 19:21

Noise and Alertness: 5 Facts You Should Know

Why can soothing music or “white noise” can put you to sleep, while a loud alarm every five minutes has the opposite effect? Noise and alertness have a complex relationship.

Research finds that even the same noise can evoke varied responses in different individuals. For example, a study that simulated an assembly line found noise actually improved the speed of air conditioner assembly but reduced the speed for carburetor assembly1.

While noise’s effects aren'tt yet perfectly understood, consensus exists on a number of points:

1. Continuous loud noise is dangerous and can cause hearing loss
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that the noise level not exceed 85 decibels (dB) —comparable to the sound of a lawnmower or electric drill. According to NIOSH, one in eight people exposed to a noise level over 85 dB develop hearing loss.

2. Continuous loud noise may reduce performance.Noise’s effect on performance depends on what kind of work one performs. For example, noise’s effect is negligible if a person has to react at certain definite times, receives clear warning signals, and has an easily visible stimulus, according to research. But problems arise when people perform a monitoring task for a long time and warning signals are less clear, or a task has several components.

Although performance problems may not always show up in lab tests, it’s still a good idea to minimize the noise level as much as possible. Along with effects on performance and hearing, excessive background noise can cause stress and anxiety and interfere with memory and learning.

 3. “White noise” causes on-the job problems for shift workers
White noise — a mix of sound waves extending over a wide frequency range — is commonly generated by engines, computers, and machinery. At work, white noise often has the effect of lulling people to sleep, especially shift workers struggling to stay awake during the overnight hours.

4. Technology can reduce noise.
There are specially-designed headsets that can reduce the external noise level by about 23 dB and allow wearers to listen to music that automatically mutes when a co-worker or supervisor needs to communicate.

5. Noise cancellation may minimize the effects of noise on alertness.
Noise cancellation devices are often built into earmuffs and produce a low-frequency noise wave that is the exact mirror image of the existing noise. Sometimes called “anti-noise,” these devices do not eliminate noise altogether, but they provide 15-20 dB of noise reduction. If your work environment has a lot of loud noise, or continuous white noise, suggest noise cancellation headphones to your shift workers.

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Are costly, unexplainable accidents occurring at your company? Fatigued workers may be the culprit.

Not convinced? Just ask Tom Voelkel, the CEO of Dupre’ Logistics, who sought the professional help of CIRCADIAN® after a series of unexplainable accidents threatened to bankrupt the trucking logistics company.

“We were having some serious accidents and we were having problems with rollover accidents. We were doing everything that we knew, but we didn’t realize that fatigue was the problem.”Tom Voelkel, CEO, Dupre’ Logistics

CIRCADIAN helped Dupre’ Logistics with implementing a variety of fatigue risk management solutions, such as employee education and biocompatible shift scheduling, to address worker fatigue issues and reduce accident rates.

“We could not do this fast enough, this was knowledge we didn’t have. We were in a situation where our people were tired, and [CIRCADIAN®] had the medicine.” -- Tom Voelkel

Did CIRCADIAN® fatigue risk management solutions work?


Watch the full story below to find out.


Don’t have enough time to watch the video? Scroll down to see if CIRCADIAN was able to help save Dupre’ from the loss of insurance coverage.


(SPOILER ALERT)


Nine months after implementing CIRCADIAN fatigue risk management solutions, Dupre’ Logistics had the following results:

  • 89% reduction in fatigue-related accidents
  • Over $1 million saved in accident-related costs
  • 50% reduction in driver turnover and absenteeism

“Looking back at it, [consulting with CIRCADIAN] was one of the best decisions that we’ve ever made in our company.”
- Tom Voelkel, CEO, Dupre' Logistics 


How can CIRCADIAN can help your company with fatigue risk management?

CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock.  Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research and technology, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations with traditional and/or extended operating hours optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of sleep deprivation and fatigue.


CIRCADIAN 24/7 workforce solutions include:

Download one of our many informative white papers that highlight strategies for reducing fatigue-related accidents and costs.

Tuesday, 02 September 2014 18:43

Understanding Human Operating Procedures

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“People don’t release smoke, grind gears, or have pieces fall off; but their equivalents – fatigue, error, injury, and ill heal
t
h do result in failure and breakdown."

Martin Moore-Ede, M.D., Ph.D., The Twenty-Four-Hour Society

While our technologies and operations have dramatically changed since the 1993 publication of The Twenty-Four-Hour Society, this statement remains as true as ever.

Why? Because like machinery, we aren’t designed to work outside of our limitations.

Below is an excerpt from The Twenty-Four-Hour Society, written by Martin Moore-Ede, M.D., Ph.D., which details the dangers of operations that are disproportionally machine-centric instead of people-centric.

The discrepancies between these mindsets are foundational to the safety and health of workers and the overall well-being of the operations.

The Twenty-Four-Hour Society: Design Specs of the Human Machine

SOME YEARS AGO I had an opportunity to work with some of the engineers who were designing the crew cabin of the space shuttle. Having been involved with NASA biomedical experiments since the Apollo moon mission days, I was invited to serve on a NASA expert panel advising on human factors considerations for the shuttle. For a young scientist, to work with the best in American engineering – the men and women who had put human beings on the moon – was a thrilling opportunity.

As we looked at several possible crew cabin configurations, my biomedical colleagues and I strongly urged NASA to abandon one scheme, which we felt almost guaranteed that the crew’s blood circulation would be drawn out into the legs during landing, causing unconsciousness. Despite our protests, we were eventually told that the engineers had selected this design.

A year later I learned that the design had subsequently been abandoned in favor of one of the others we preferred. When I expressed delight that the biomedical concerns had finally been acknowledged, I was told the reason for abandoning the previously selected design: undue stress from G-forces would damage the wings. We got the design we wanted, but we had done nothing to alter the mind-set of the engineers!

In most cases of discrimination one group discriminates against another, but here we have a case of discrimination against ourselves.

We treat our man-made machinery better than the bodies of the people who operate it. Machines are protected by operational manuals, warning labels, and training courses. Humans arrive in this world with no such protection. We tend to assume that people are adaptable, but that is true only within narrow limits.

A manager of an industrial plant or a pilot of a plane or a NASA space shuttle, who operated a complex piece of machinery outside of the specifications for which it was designed would be deemed reckless and irresponsible.

Operating a machine out its design specs, at too many rpm, too high a G-force, too high a temperature, or too low a pressure, creates unnecessary risks of breakdown or failure. Yet the most highly sophisticated pieces of machinery in that industrial plant, airplane, or space shuttle are not the complex electronic man-made systems, but rather the bodies and brains of the human operators or pilots.

People believe that machinery is inherently unreliable and must constantly be watched. Yet, with the advances in modern engineering, it is the human operator, more than the machine itself, that needs watching.

We hire people to watch the equipment in our factories, nuclear power plants, and airplanes, but we don’t have the equipment watch the person to ensure that he or she is awake and alert. We have the weak link of the chain watching the strong link, but not the strong watching the weak – the fallible watching the infallible, rather than the infallible watching the fallible.

Because we have been machine-centered in our thinking – focused on the optimization of technology and equipment – rather than human-centered – focused on the optimization of human alertness and performance, the reliability of machines has grown enormously in the twentieth century, while human reliability has tended to decline.

Human error has become the problem of our age because of the trade-offs and compromises, made to ensure the technological achievements of the modern world, have not taken into account the design specs of the human body. Creating and installing a human-centered technology to redress the balance will be one of the most important challenges of the twenty-first century.

The shocking truth is that we know far less about the design specs of the human being than we know about the hardware and software he or she operates. And we tend to abuse those design specs, particularly in around-the-clock operations, which are the core of our twenty-four-hour society.

People don’t release smoke, grind gears, or have pieces fall off; but their equivalents – fatigue, error, injury, and ill health – do result in failure and breakdown.

Source: Martin Moore-Ede, The Twenty-Four Hour Society: Understanding Human Limits in a World That Never Stops, Addison-Wesley 1993.

About CIRCADIAN

CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock.  Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research and technology, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations with traditional and/or extended operating hours optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of sleep deprivation and fatigue.
Thursday, 24 July 2014 21:18

The Nine Switches of Human Alertness

Construction worker
Right now, take a moment and estimate how alert you are on a scale of 1 to 10. Now, go a step further and try to pinpoint what factors are influencing your alertness levels.

In his book, The Twenty-Four Hour Society, Dr. Martin Moore-Ede identifies how a person’s alertness is triggered by nine key internal and external factors that can be considered the switches on the control panel of the mind.

Understanding these 9 key switches and how to manipulate them is the secret of gaining power over one of the most important attributes of the human brain: alertness.

Here are 9 switches – recognizing them can help you stay alert on the job.

1.  Sense of danger, interest or opportunity
Nothing pulls us faster from a drowsy state than the imminent threat of danger, or just surviving a near miss. The emergency fight-or-flight response is activated by the sympathetic nervous system, and the brain is placed on full alert. However, it is important to note that the presence of danger is not enough; the danger must be perceived and feared.

Although less extreme than the response to danger, a stimulating task or opportunity triggers a similar response. The flip-side is that alertness fades if what you’re doing is monotonous. An endless stretch of freeway or a quiet night in a plant where everything is running smoothly can prompt drowsiness.

2.  Muscular Activity
Physical activities such as walking or stretching also trigger the sympathetic nervous system and help keep you alert. However, many jobs require us to be sedentary. Extended periods without much movement, such as sitting in a chair or car, can make it difficult to stay fully alert or even awake.

3.  Time of day on the circadian clock
Circadian rhythms – daily ups and downs in body temperature, blood pressure, hormone levels and other physiological traits – have a major effect on alertness. We generally experience peak levels of alertness in the morning and early evening and lowest levels of alertness in the early afternoon and during the overnight hours.

4.  Sleep bank balance
How long you’ve been awake and how much sleep you’ve had in recent days affects your alertness level. If you only sleep four or five hours a day for several days, you build up a “sleep debt” that leads to reduced alertness. A long spell of sleep acts as a “deposit” that offsets your sleep debt.

5.  Ingested nutrients and chemicals
Caffeine and amphetamines temporarily increase alertness. Others, such as sleeping pills, antihistamines, melatonin and certain foods, may induce sleep. Of course, some of these substances have serious drawbacks because of their negative effect on overall health and potential for abuse or addiction.

6.  Environmental light
Bright light tends to increase alertness, particularly during the over-night hours. Whether you’re at home or on the job, dim light or darkness set the stage for falling asleep.

7.  Temperature and humidity
Cool, dry air, especially on your face, makes it easier to stay alert, while heat and humidity make you drowsy. Similarly, a cold shower is invigorating, while a warm bath prepares you for sleep.

8.  Sound
As you know, sound can be both a tool for promoting sleep and increasing alertness. Be conscious of the sound around you and adjust it to fit what you need. For example, the soft hum of computers in the middle of the night might lull you into sleep.

9.  Aroma
Some researchers believe that aromas like peppermint, pine and citrus can make people more alert. Lavender, meanwhile, seems to have a sedative effect.

At first glance the Nine Switches of Alertness may seem obvious and straightforward. However, many workplaces have not embraced the 'switches' to increase the alertness of their workforce.

One challenge is that the human desire for comfort intervenes. Making oneself comfortable is not compatible with optimal alertness, especially during the wee hours of the morning. In fact, the desire for comfort may be so dominant, and lack of awareness of the compromise one is making with alertness so large, that alertness takes a back seat.

Take for example, high-tech industrial control rooms that are being built around the world. Many of them are more focused on human comfort than on alertness because of the belief that comfort equals improved performance. However, the truth is that sometime to be fully alert one must be a little uncomfortable.

Want to learn more about alertness and human fatigue? Visit CIRCADIAN.com to download a free white paper about human fatigue.

Source: Martin Moore-Ede, The Twenty-Four Hour Society: Understanding Human Limits in a World That Never Stops, Addison-Wesley 1993.

About CIRCADIAN

CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock.  Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research and technology, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations with traditional and/or extended operating hours optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of sleep deprivation and fatigue.

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