Fatigue Risk Management Is Just About Keeping People Awake

Fatigue Risk Management is focused on two import aspects: alertness and fatigue that leads to falling asleep. Studies show that many shift workers acknowledge falling asleep at work due to irregular work-rest schedules. Nodding off has in many places been an acceptable byproduct of shift work but is extremely dangerous for process control operators who may miss critical alarms or not understand what happened in the last 30 minutes.

It is also a major issue if an operator is suffering from sleep paralysis where they look awake but nothing is going in, often someone will observe and say, “Hey do you see that? Are you going to do something about it?" The major role of a Fatigue Risk Management Plan is to ensure that employees have limit on hours of service and strict rules for exceeding those hours of service limits and to ensure the employee has an opportunity to take recovery time after a fatiguing work schedule, most of them quote an opportunity to have 16 hours sleep.

The other part of the plan should address alertness and provide recommendations for fatigue countermeasures which may consist of taking breaks, having Ergo breaks every 30 minutes, providing some cardiovascular exercise equipment to get the adrenalin pumping through the body.

Other countermeasures are subtler like having bright lighting in the work environment, correct temperature and humidity controls, providing ergonomic work surfaces and chairs that prevent fatigue and stress and keep the body in the neutral position, arms at 90 degrees and head over the shoulders. Some places promote taking naps between the 6th and 8th hour of awakening.

Napping increases alertness, makes for better decisions, preserves useful looks, helps people lose weight, improves stamina, boosts creativity, alleviates migraines, speeds up motor performance, improves perception, reduces risk of heart attack and stroke, elevates mood, reduces dependence on drug and alcohol, improves quality of nocturnal sleep, makes you feel good and improves sex life.

A 20-minute can produce positive effects if the person is sleep deprived a 40-minute nap can refresh and produce a more productive 11 hours shift. NASA states that: an afternoon nap increases productivity by 35% and decision-making ability by up to 50%.

Sir Winston Churchill once said, “You must sleep sometime between lunch and dinner, and no halfway measures. Take off your clothes and get into bed. That's what I always do. Don't think you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That's a foolish notion held by people who have no imagination. You will be able to accomplish more. You get two days in one —well, at least one and a half, I'm sure. When the war started, I had to sleep during the day because that was the only way I could cope with my responsibilities.