Canadian Occupational Safety

January/February 2020

Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine is the premier workplace health and safety publication in Canada. We cover a wide range of topics ranging from office to heavy industry, and from general safety management to specific workplace hazards.

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 18 of 27

19 2020 JANUARY/FEBRUARY test, which takes less than a minute, the system measures the worker's response time and accuracy. It also identifies individual peculiarities in the way the worker does the test. For example, where one person will sacrifice speed for the sake of accuracy, another will do the opposite. An employee starts by doing the test 10 times to establish a standard or baseline that reflects that worker's normal range. The baseline is unique to that worker and will be compared against all future test results. Those who score inside their normal range carry on and start their shift. For those who score outside their normal range, what action they take next will depend on company policy. Supervisors are notified of workers who have not taken the test by the specified time and also of workers who took the test but scored outside their normal range. Greg Adamietz, vice-president of sales at Denver, Colo.-based Predictive Safety SRP, says this type of technol- ogy is a valuable tool for managers, especially where it is impossible for a manager to single out potentially sleep-deprived employees. "We now have a third-party, empir- ical data-driven tool that is clinically validated to detect fatigue telling you, as a shift supervisor, that out of your 75 folks, be sure to check in with these three because they are informing the system that something is not right." Rostad says SASM decided to dis- tribute the AlertMeter in part because it thought it would be useful for member manufacturers, some of which have a large number of work- ers and several buildings on one site. "Managers don't have time to go out and talk to each person one on one. This technology lets you know that, for example, Bob is off his game today. And you go out and talk to Bob. Maybe he's dealing with some issues at home or other things that are distracting him that day. Then, as that supervisor, you can gauge whether he should be doing a job that is safety sensitive, which could injure him or other workers. Or maybe there's another job you could give him to work on," she says. In addition to taking it at the start of a shift, the test can be taken again later in the day. In higher risk-environ- ments, a worker could take it at the end of the shift if, for example, they're overtired and not able to drive home. "We also see the system deployed right before a critically important task," Adamietz says. "Imagine you're a crane operator: you're about to walk up to the top of the crane and move 500 tons over a main street. Before you do that, maybe you want to engage the AlertMeter and make sure you've got your game face on and you're fit for this activity." Over time, the baseline score continues to adapt to a worker's per- formance on the tests, adjusting to frequent higher or lower scores. "That's because, obviously, there are different factors going on in a per- son's life that may affect the amount of sleep they receive. For example, if I have a baby, I'm suddenly getting a lot less sleep, so the baseline will adjust," Desruisseaux says. AlertMeter and Aware4Duty sell to industries that have employees who work remotely, on rotating shifts and in high-risk positions, such as mining and oil and gas. Their custom- ers are mostly in the manufacturing, transportation, utilities and logistics industries (truck drivers, crane oper- ators, freight yards, shipping facilities and railway facilities). In general, fatigue technology pro- vides a deterrent effect, Desruisseaux says. This is particularly relevant today as many people do jobs on the side. A worker with a regular job may still be driving for Uber after they leave a site and go home. However, a fatigue technology at their regular job will act as a deterrent for these workers. "Just the fact that I know I have to take these tests every day, I'm going to get a better sleep every night because I don't want to go outside my range," he says. Moreover, when a work site introdu- ces daily fatigue testing, each worker's confidence in their own safety around their co-workers is increased. "It makes every individual more confident when they're operating in and around someone who might be in that safety sensitive position. If you think about a construction site and someone is operating a very danger- ous piece of equipment, you're a lot more comfortable doing that early in the morning, just knowing the operator is not fatigued right now," Desruisseaux says. Another technology developed in recent years to address the hazard of fatigue in the workplace is telematics. These systems combine various technol- ogies, including cameras and sensors, to collect data on driver behaviour. They can also detect other possible effects of fatigue, such as erratic steering and braking. Cameras in the cab can moni- tor changes in head and eye movements to detect signs of fatigue. Another fatigue-detecting technol- ogy uses electroencephalography (EEG) monitoring to assess fatigue and prevent micro-sleeps, a period of sleep that lasts from a few to several seconds. Sensors embedded in a band in the cap or hardhat of a driver or equipment operator measure brain waves to assess the worker's ability to resist sleep. As the risk of a micro- sleep approaches, the system sends an alert to the worker, who can then act to increase alertness and avoid an incident. Managers can monitor a company's vehicle fleet and get real- time information on their drivers' alertness levels. This technology is used in the trucking, passenger trans- port and mining industries. IS IT NECESSARY? Fatigue is a major hazard at every high-risk workplace, so managers at these sites should probably consider whether fatigue technology would be advantageous at their company. Such sites would include not just dangerous industries, such as material transport or oil and gas, but also sites that employ workers on irregular, extended shifts and remote workers. One way of determining whether or not fatigue is a problem among work- ers is to analyze safety incident data already collected, Desruisseaux says. What factors contributed to these inci- dents and how many incidents seem to have been the result of fatigue? What is the percentage of incidents caused by fatigue? The purpose of fatigue technology is not to help safety managers determine whether they have a fatigue problem but rather to help them understand the extent of the problem, Trotter says. "Almost every industrial organi- zation is dealing with fatigue. Most safety managers and most industrial workers are well aware that it's an issue. We'll sit and talk to industrial workers and the first thing they'll say is, 'Of course, I'm fatigued. I'm work- ing crazy hours; I'm working in the middle of the night,'" he says. "This technology is about quantify- ing the problem, so a safety manager can know, 'How fatigued is my work- force?' It's about how safety managers measure it. Then they can ask what are the things they can do to improve that? How do they deal with it and make changes? And then they mea- sure it again. That's very much what our technology is used for." A central consideration in select- ing the technology that is most appropriate for a workplace is worker acceptance: Will the workers use it? It's important to take into account the privacy of the individual and the jurisdiction's regulations. This issue is particularly important with wearables or any kind of behaviour-monitoring technology. Such technologies may be less acceptable in unionized work- places. In some workplaces, there may be limits on what information man- agers can look at. It may not be possible, for example, for a manager to check in with an app and see an individual's fatigue level, Trotter says. "It will depend very much on any agreement that the employer has with their workers and on the jurisdiction they're in. In some jurisdictions, the employer would not be allowed to see that data so they would see random- ized data," he says. "So, they would be able to say, I've got 100 workers on shift. I can see that 10 of them are in a highly fatigued state. That's when you're having a safety briefing. You would bring up the data and say I don't know who those 10 fatigued individuals are, but all of you can look on the app on your phone and see if it's you. And then we can have a discussion about how we can mitigate that fatigue." Fatigue has always been a big prob- lem, Adamietz says. But today, it is greatly compounded by the changing nature of work. "With the expanding gig economy, people are working many jobs. They'll drive you to the airport in the morn- ing or they may deliver groceries after work. So, fatigue, the concepts of absenteeism and 'presenteeism' are more and more on the minds of [employers]," he says. "What drives the decision to explore fatigue aware- ness technologies is the risk factor inside the environment. If it's just mainly office workers, then your risk factor is mistake prevention, in calcu- lations or work product. Inside more blue-collar settings, your risk factor is injury or fatality." COS Linda Johnson is a freelance journalist who has been writing for COS for eight years. HOW CAN AN EMPLOYER IDENTIFY FATIGUE? Fatigue is more than feeling drowsy or overworked. Below are some signs or symptoms to look for: • excessive yawning or falling asleep • memory problems • inability to concentrate • impaired decision-making • changes in behaviour, such as lateness or absenteeism from work. HOW CAN AN EMPLOYER PREVENT FATIGUE? An employer can prevent fatigue by recognizing the factors that could contribute to and increase the risk of fatigue. These may include: • work schedules, such as early starts or late finishes • job demands, such as repetitious work or continued physical effort • sleep conditions, such as length, quality and time since sleeping • environmental conditions, such as exposure to heat, cold or noisy workplaces • non-work-related factors such as lifestyle or family responsibilities. Source: LegalVision IDENTIFICATION AND PREVENTION

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Canadian Occupational Safety - January/February 2020