Recent research has revealed that workers suffer a multitude of problems that are associated with working 12-hour shifts and rotating shifts. Some of these problems can include a disturbed body-clock, shortened and distorted sleep, and a disturbed family and social life.
These issues resulted in acute effects on fatigue, mood and performance when adequate coping strategies are absent. Often times, these issues can progress into chronic effects on the mental and physical well being of a person, as well as a risk of cardiovascular gastrointestinal problems.
Furthermore, the results have revealed the obvious, which is that a lack of sleep or heightened fatigue can increase safety risks.
The research was founded by Professor David Peetz and Associate Professor Georgina Murray of the Griffith University Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing, based on a survey carried out between August and December 2011.
The survey examined the effects of shift rosters and working hours in the mining industry. Respondents included 2566 Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union members and 1915 partners of miners.
A large percentage of respondents referred to sleeping difficulties, use of anti-depressants, and fatigue. Partners found that their spouses were too tired to function properly within the family.
There are growing numbers of studies being conducted into shift rosters as the 24-hour operation of mines and other operations become more prevalent. To many Australians, it is a 24-hour working world.
More info on Occupational Health and Safety
Tasmania Liberal party health spokesman Jeremy Rockliff cited leaked statistics that showed ambulance workers were on the job a total of 3469 hours overtime in the first two months of 2013 in southern Tasmania. He states that the data also shows that at least 30 crew shortages occurred and sometimes service was cancelled completely.
“This is clearly an ambulance service in crisis,” he said.
Rockliff emphasized that staff were under stress which could potentially result in a workplace accident.
“As one paramedic put it in a recent survey: ‘It’s only a matter of time before a staff member crashes a vehicle or suffers major ill health due to exceeding their stress-fatigue limit’,” Mr Rockliff said.
The Government stated an additional $48 million had been spent on ambulance services over four years, but demand for services was on the rise.
To cope with the demand, an additional 18 paramedics have been employed since December and 12 more are expected to be employed in April.
More info on Fatigue Management
Minor legislative changes to the hours of work and rest within the Heavy Vehicle Driver Fatigue reforms may be warranted, according to a discussion paper released for public consultation today by the National Transport Commission (NTC).
The Improving the basic fatigue management option discussion paper, explores whether amendments should be made to the reform requirements for split rests, the 14 day cycle and early starts contained within the Basic Fatigue Management (BFM) option.
Under the fatigue reforms, accredited operators who have undertaken comprehensive fatigue management training and put appropriate risk management systems into place are able to opt to schedule hours of work and rest that allow more flexibility in their work schedule, which potentially introduces increased risk through less restrictions on work hours. This is known as the BFM option.
“Any change to the agreed national heavy vehicle fatigue laws, even a minor change, has the potential to significantly impact road safety for drivers and the community and must therefore be carefully considered.”
“One of the key issues we have been exploring is whether drivers should be allowed to split their seven hour break into two blocks, even if it means the two blocks sum to a period exceeding seven hours.”
Under the current fatigue reforms, a long break of seven hours is required in any 24 hours.
“We have also explored whether a driver should be able to work more than seven days in a row if risk is adequately managed and whether the night rest period for drivers should be adjusted so it does not restrict drivers going to bed early and starting work early on a consistent basis.
Under the fatigue reforms, the BFM option requires a 24 hour rest in seven days and a night rest period of between 10pm to 8am.
Online basic fatigue management courses are readily available and easy to complete.
Courtesy: The Gov Monitor
Have you ever wondered why you feel drowsy during certain times of the day, even though you may have gotten good sleep at night? That’s quite normal. Why? Because of circadian rhythms – in other words, your body clock. (more…)
All heavy vehicles with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) over 12 tonnes and buses with 12 seats (9 in NSW) will need to comply with fatigue management legislation. Under OH&S legislation employers have a duty of care responsibility to provide a safe workplace and safe systems of work and employees must be mentally and physically fit for work and work in a safe and responsible manner. (more…)