BOX 4-1
Risk Factors for Fatigue-Related Errors and Accidents

Risks of fatigue-related errors and accidents stem from multiple interrelated and interacting aspects of work, rest, and sleep. These include but are not limited to:

  1. duration of work periods within a single day and over time,
  2. time of day at which work occurs,
  3. variation in the timing of work within and between weeks,
  4. duration of sleep obtained on work days and on nonwork days,
  5. frequency and duration of days off from work,
  6. different vulnerabilities of workers to fatigue from these factors, and
  7. volume and intensity of work.

SOURCE: Institute of Medicine (2009, pp. 218-219) citing the works of Dinges (1995), Rosa (2001), Drake et al. (2004), Folkard et al. (2005), and Van Dongen (2006).

mathematical models of fatigue in work settings concluded that although the models are intended to provide quantitative information on the likely average level of fatigue risk associated with a given pattern of work and sleep, there is considerable individual variability attributable to personal biology and task variables not included in current models (Dawson et al., 2011; see also Van Dongen et al., 2004). The review also concluded that given the current limitations of the fatigue models, they may be most useful as one element in a fatigue risk management system (Dawson et al., 2011). Considerable research is needed to address how to use these models, and other knowledge in the design and implementation of staffing and work-scheduling programs in order to minimize fatigue (see National Research Council, 2007; Horrey et al., 2011).

The issue of fatigue in safety-sensitive work operations cuts across many industries and has been addressed broadly in the scientific literature. The combination of work demands, sleep restriction, and circadian factors can negatively affect alertness, performance, speed, accuracy, and central nervous system functioning (Cabon et al., 1993; Goel et al., 2009b): see Box 4-1. The next chapter looks more closely at the potential for pilots’ commuting patterns to affect their risk of fatigue.

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