What is fatigue management?

Fatigue management relates to the methods used to effectively handle the safety implications of extreme weariness on shift. Poorly designed shift patterns, lack of adequate awareness of other events in a worker’s life (e.g. a second job, children, dependents), stress and extended working hours all contribute towards a lack of balance between work and rest, leading to unnecessary increases in injury and ill-health. It is estimated in a study by Safety & Health Magazine, 13% of workplace accidents and injuries are linked to insufficient sleep and long-term fatigue.

Lack of effective fatigue management also has secondary impacts on on-road travel. According to Health & Safety Executive ‘20% of accidents on major roads, costing the UK £115-£240 million per year’ in work accidents due to fatigue.

It can be a common problem in the security, with nightshifts, industry-rife low pay leading to many officers taking long shifts or working multiple jobs to boost income. It is particularly pertinent in winter months, as seasonal weather affects workforce energy levels, and many are tempted to sacrifice sleep to earn extra for Christmas.

Successful fatigue management in security is hugely important to mitigate serious and preventable incidents and accidents.

What protections are in place?

Employers have a legal obligation to check and proactively manage risks that arise from insufficient rest. Adhering to Workplace Time Regulations alone is not enough; organisations need to be fully aware and tracking the number of hours an individual is working. Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have issued guidelines for companies to ensure they are complying with fatigue management law, as well as a helpful ‘Fatigue Risk Index Calculator’ (see resources below).

What are the impacts of failure to manage fatigue?

Insufficient management of shifts can have serious long-term implications on a business and a worker, from health to accidents to increased costs, such as:

  • Reductions in human reliability
  • Reductions in concentration
  • Reductions in compliance and judgement
  • Reductions in the ability to understand and retain information or instructions
  • Reductions in the ability to react or respond urgently
  • Reductions in motivation and interest in work, which can affect productivity and team morale
  • Increases in lapses in attention or memory
  • Increases in a poor mood, impatience, and stress
  • Increases in the risk of errors and malpractice
  • Increases in a risk of injury to themselves or others
  • Increases in the risk of falling asleep on the job
  • Increases in costly mistakes and accidents, which may result in harm to others, compensation claims, or negative PR

How do Expeditious Services proactively manage fatigue?

  • Our Critical Control Helpdesk (CCHD) oversees shift scheduling. Account managers are responsible for ensuring all officers are working appropriate shift lengths, have adequate time off and sufficient rest between shifts and the number of shifts covered over the week allows for proper recuperation
  • CCHD account managers carefully monitor workload across the team to ensure no-one is overburdened, stressed, or burnt-out
  • Between CCHD and HR departments, we track officers taking additional jobs outside of their duties with Expeditious Services. It is within all contracts that permission is needed to take on additional work so we have awareness and can suitably collaborate on shift planning to avoid fatigue.
  • CCHD perform welfare checks with all officers ensuring they have everything they need to comfortably complete their shift. These check calls also give an opportunity for CCHD to check in with how the officers are, as well as listen for signs of stress or exhaustion.
  • When scheduling shifts, CCHD plan an officer’s commute into their shift time. As much as possible, an officer will be employed locally, with an approximate 40 miles radius to site
  • Establishing good report and relationships with officers to understand their out of work needs e.g. childcare commitments, days of worship, which may impact on their stress levels and rest time
  • When out of work, no pressures or expectations are placed on officers to respond to any digital correspondence. Replying to texts or reading emails on a day off can easily encroach on a worker’s private rest time and become a stress factor
  • Promoting regular company campaigns to ‘keep well’ and deliver ‘excellence always’, ensuring all officers are living and breathing our company values.

You may also enjoy our blog on ‘The importance of mental health in the security industry’.

Sources

HSE; Workplace fatigue management

HSE; Managing shift work guidance

HSE; Fatigue Risk Calculator

TUC; Fatigue guide

Construction Line; Managing workplace fatigue