Fatigue Risk Management (FRM)
One of the best studies I have seen in quite some time on workplace Risk Management was a recently published analysis on Fatigue Risk Management (FRM) – see this article. It is from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The subject is not cutting edge. Every Risk Manager knows that as fatigue rises, so does the accident rate. The key points of the study are:
• Fatigue is related to the duration of sleep and timing (circadian rhythm) of sleep.
• Inadequate sleep is correlated with a variety of adverse medical outcomes.
• Various shift work schedules can affect both the duration and the timing of sleep.
• Inadequate duration of sleep is correlated with injury rate.
The study goes on to point out the differences between fatigue and sleepiness. When the term fatigue is used, many think of it as the same as sleepiness, but these are actually two different (although related) states. Sleepiness is the tendency to fall asleep; fatigue is the body’s response to sleep loss or to prolonged physical or mental exertion.
Fatigue may be reduced by sedentary activity or rest without sleeping, whereas subjective sleepiness and the propensity for sleep are often exacerbated by sedentary activity or rest.1 Sleep propensity can be accompanied by decreased alertness which then leads to decreased attention to detail, impaired judgment,
and slowed response time. This can affect productivity, safety, and overall health table 1 lists several factors that can lead to fatigue and increased sleep propensity and that affects the resultant degree of impairment. Fatigue and decreased alertness resulting from insufficient or poor quality sleep can have several safety-related consequences, including slowed reaction time, reduced vigilance, reduced decision-making ability, poor judgment, distraction during complex tasks, and loss of awareness in critical situations.
Sleep deprivation has long been recognized as an unmet public health challenge. Many individuals believe they adapt to chronic sleep loss or that recovery requires only a single extended sleep episode, but studies have shown that this is not the case.
Table 5 near the end of the study has a great checklist for fatigue. I think we will all see fatigue become a very hot risk management and claims item over the next few years.
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