Managing Driver Fatigue
The European Industrial Gases Association (EIGA) has published this safety information sheet. It points out that fatigue can affect all people in their working environment to varying levels. Driving is a complex mental and physical task requiring sustained levels of concentration and skill to maintain maximum performance. No driver can afford to be fatigued nor can anyone else. Driver fatigue causes thousands of road accidents each year.
Research shows that driver fatigue maybe a contributing factor in 20% of these accidents and up to one quarter of serious and fatal accidents. The management of such fatigue is critical to the safe operation of gas industry delivery vehicles and the drivers to return home safe at the end of every shift.
The purpose of this publication is to provide training topics and recommendations that can help to avoid situations that affect drivers in their daily lives and can make them fatigued. It gives guidance on what to consider when creating a fatigue management system.
It is noted that fatigue is more than falling asleep at the wheel. Fatigue describes the feeling of being tired, drained or exhausted. It causes poor judgment, poor hazard perception, impaired coordination with slower reactions and impacts on how well one can work. It builds up, leading to a progressive loss of alertness that ultimately ends in sleep and is a major contributing factor in many road incidents.
The information sheet goes on to address:
causes of fatigue
illness and medications/drugs
warning signs of fatigue
reducing the risk of fatigue on the road
using technology to tackle fatigue
company culture and training about fatigue.
In conclusion, it is noted that fatigue is a major root cause of many serious road incidents experienced by gas companies and their contractors. However, fatigue is a complex issue with multiple causes both within and outside the workplace. In order for a company to minimise the impact of fatigue, it is suggested that they need to fully train their operational staff in understanding fatigue, the causes, effects and steps individuals can take to mitigate the risk. This should be supported by company policies and procedures to allow their staff overcoming fatigue issues and undertake analysis of data to identify potential fatigue issues.
The information sheet is available here. Contact STN if you are not a paid subscriber.
European Industrial Gases Association November 2021