With ever increasing operational pressures and the need to meet demanding deadlines, managing worker fatigue within the oil and gas industry is an ongoing challenge at both the individual and the organisational level.
TMS was recently engaged by an organisation within the pipeline industry to develop and implement a Fatigue Management Campaign on a large scale Queensland-based LNG project. It was recognised that the project was rapidly progressing towards the agreed completion date and a significant amount of operational work was yet to be delivered. In order to address this, the organisation invited workers to volunteer to partake in an extended roster aimed at maximising production outcomes during final stages, with the intent of ensuring deadlines and required deliverables were met. The extended roster cycle was to be an ongoing continuation of the standard roster for the remainder of the project.
The organisation’s objective was to identify and mitigate fatigue risks on site in relation to the extended roster, increase worker and supervisor awareness in regards to fatigue and sleep, and to consult with workers and managers, creating opportunities for them to raise fatigue-related issues and concerns. The organisation was committed to ensuring that fatigue-related risks due to the extended roster were addressed, and that suitable controls were identified and implemented. The organisation aimed to ensure they were taking reasonably practicable steps to mitigate the increased fatigue risks associated with working extended cycles, wanted to guarantee compliance with relevant legislative requirements, and placed considerable emphasis on ensuring the safety and well-being of their workers during what was a high risk period.
The high risk nature of the operational work combined with tough environmental conditions created some significant challenges for effectively managing fatigue during the extended roster. In addition to practical work conditions, it was further acknowledged that organisational culture, behavioural norms, and attitudes towards safety and fatigue would also require attention. The focus needed to be on educating workers in a way that would create buy-in to fatigue management practices and willingness to change existing routines and attitudes that may hinder safety performance. Thus the key challenge was to optimise performance through balancing work health and safety with operational requirements, whilst also complying with legislative requirements.
What TMS Did
TMS provided a Safety and Fatigue Consultant to work in the field on a FIFO arrangement for the duration of the campaign. In order to address the fatigue concerns on site, TMS initially undertook a discovery process onsite to identify fatigue-related issues and surrounding safety culture. A structure for the campaign was developed focusing on the following areas:
- Fatigue awareness training
- Supervisor fatigue training
- Fatigue risk identification and mitigation
- Safety culture awareness
- Development of required fatigue procedures and policies
- Consultation with the workforce
The campaign continued for seven weeks and addressed each of these focus areas. A comprehensive organisational Fatigue Risk Assessment was conducted, with recommendations on levels of risk associated with various work activities, shift lengths, roster lengths and working conditions. Recommendations and control measures were provided. Tools were also provided to assist workers and managers to conduct individual risk assessments regarding fatigue levels onsite, with a defined procedure for response to the identification of high-risk levels.
Safety Culture was a strong focus point throughout the campaign with the intent of improving the beliefs and attitudes surrounding fatigue management and reporting. Supervisors were required to attend a fatigue management training session that followed up with regular in field coaching by TMS. TMS interacted with the workforce out in the field on a regular basis as a means of continued knowledge sharing and to create an opportunity for fatigue concerns to be raised.
The campaign was rolled out successfully. For the duration of the extended roster, there were no reported incidents that in any way contributed to worker fatigue. Workers and managers at all levels indicated they had experienced an increase in their awareness and knowledge of fatigue management. TMS’ infield Safety and Fatigue Consultant observed a noticeable cultural shift, which was demonstrated through managers and supervisors becoming noticeably more accepting and cooperative of the ongoing fatigue management practices that were implemented throughout the campaign. Approximately 70% of control measures that were recommended as a result of the Fatigue Risk Assessment were implemented with the aim of mitigating the fatigue risks identified. An improvement in regulatory compliance in relation to fatigue management was noted. Updates were made to the existing Fatigue Management Procedures, which will be of benefit to future projects. Overall, in an industry that has long been accustomed to excessive production pressures, along with a high-risk operating environment, the Fatigue Management Campaign played a significant role in minimising the risk of fatigue and maintaining a safe work environment.