Recent reports suggesting that roster changes will fix fatigue in FIFO arrangements are short-sighted according to TMS Consulting Chief Executive Officer, Helen Wood.
Wood, whose company recently completed a major study on fatigue in the Australian Pipeline Industry and developed industry-wide guidelines for fatigue, says that changing the roster cycle of Australia’s fly-in fly-out workers not will resolve or mitigate the risk of fatigue.
Wood goes on to say that “all rosters must be designed well to mitigate fatigue but the biggest determinant is sleep opportunity. Personal health factors and lifestyle choices also are key.”
“One of the key findings from our study was that it wasn’t the length of the roster that directly contributed to employee fatigue on the project.”
“While it is true fatigue continues over the cycle the real decrease is cognitive performance happened from day 8 of the roster. It is also important to note that fatigue in the gas pipeline industry is not as significant as some other industries particularly those utilising night shift.”
According to Wood there are a range of complex issues at play including how the individual manages their own health and recuperation, as well as organisational culture and leadership.
“Yes, rostering arrangements can have an impact on fatigue but right now there is no definitive answer for which cycle-length is ideal for a particular project or organisation. The accepted rules of thumb need to be challenged. Many factors impact on fatigue – not just roster length.”
“Companies must work with employees to increase awareness with a focus on education, culture and leadership. Psychosocial safety is also an essential consideration for FIFO workers and again rosters are only part of the story.”
Wood also commended the work of the Australian Pipeline Industry and the efforts they are making to address and mitigate fatigue and safety risk for workers in the industry.
“The Australian Pipeline Industry Association has taken a very proactive approach to fatigue and have shown a strong, ongoing commitment to safety and employee wellbeing. The Fatigue Management Study and the new guidelines we were commissioned to undertake are evidence of that. The next steps should be to consider the psychosocial elements of FIFO work in more detail.”
TMS Consulting released the Fatigue Management Study on the Australian Pipeline Industry in October 2013.
The aim of the study was to identify the extent of occupational fatigue and if necessary provide recommendations to improve fatigue management and safety. The fatigue study took place over twelve months and was based on a large-scale coal seam gas pipeline construction project in Australia. Over 400 pipeline industry employees were surveyed and tested.
The Fatigue Management Guidelines for the Australian Pipeline Industry were released this week and can be found on the APIA website.
TMS Consulting helps organisations to assess, develop, embed, and evaluate their fatigue risk management systems, and to provide tailored and targeted fatigue training. The TMS difference is that we can advise you on how to engage your employee’s heart and minds to hardwire the safety culture change. Contact TMS on 07 3003 1473 to discuss how we can work with you to achieve your desired fatigue management outcomes.