In recent years, organizations have become better at managing workplace risks including issues such as materials handling, use of seat belts and safety harnesses, as well as exposure to harmful chemicals. As these risks have been reduced, other threats have become more apparent. This is particularly true of fatigue, which until recently was not well understood or easy to measure. Recent research and applied management strategies are beginning to provide solutions for individual employees and organizations to better manage fatigue-related risk.
Fatigue is an experience of physical and/or mental tiredness that results in reduced alertness and negatively impacts performance. The major cause of fatigue is not having obtained adequate rest or recovery from previous activities. In simple terms, fatigue largely results from inadequate quantity or quality of sleep.
There are many consequences of fatigue and they fall into three major categories – physical (e.g., abruptly nodding off for a few seconds, called a microsleep), mental (e.g., lapses in attention) and emotional (e.g., irritability). The fatigue associated with tiredness and reduced alertness is different from physical fatigue or weariness that is caused by long and/or hard physical work.
In this case, fatigue may be more accurately defined as mental fatigue although it certainly affects physical performance as well – especially tasks that require mental physical interactions like hand-eye coordination, reaction time, and fine motor skills. Other skills that are impaired by fatigue include attention, vigilance, concentration, ability to communicate information clearly and accurately, and decision-making. Impairment can lead to fatigue-related errors, which in turn can lead to incidents or accidents.
Individual Fatigue Likelihood Assessment
The Individual Fatigue Likelihood Assessment Card is designed to be carried by an individual worker so they can measure their own fatigue score. Workers are encouraged to keep it on their person at all times as a tool to check your fatigue level.
The individual fatigue likelihood assessment card uses minimum sleep and maximum awake rules as a basic self assessment tool to determine fatigue levels. It is a tool that enables workers to self-determine their risk of fatigue and manage their risk of fatigue on their own.
Below is an enlarged example of both sides of the wallet-sized card.
The goal of an Fatigue Risk Management Systems should be to reduce fatigue levels as much as reasonably possible. Achieving this goal involves focusing on the time available for sleep or sleep opportunity and actual sleep obtained. However, it is important to acknowledge that it is not possible to completely eliminate fatigue from all workplaces all of the time. Employees and managers should also understand that a certain amount of fatigue in the workplace may be acceptable, provided the risks are managed.
Many organizations supplement fatigue reduction strategies with fatigue-proofing strategies. Both types of countermeasures are important defenses against latent failures – a series of breakdowns in the system that build up to create the conditions for an incident. They also act to further reduce the risk of active failures – the direct causes of an incident.
Once an analysis of the work schedule has been completed using work design principles, computer-modelling techniques, assessment of sleep patterns, or other approaches, the organization can target the areas of highest fatigue in the schedule with fatigue-proofing strategies. This approach encompasses four main components, including:
More specific examples of fatigue proofing strategies might include:
Scheduling Less Complex or Less Safety-Critical Tasks
For more on fatigue management systems, click here.
By Jim Stirling - Logging & Sawmilling Journal February 2017
New standards designed to make working around planers safer for B.C. sawmill crews will soon be made available to industry. The safety measures are also expected to contribute to a significant increase in operational planer efficiency.
The planer safety recommendations are the result of a collaborative examination of the issue by the British Columbia Forest Safety Council (BCFSC) and WorkSafeBC. The latter group was preparing a final report on the proposal at press time.
Work on the file began when the industry’s Manufacturers Advisory Group (MAG) began looking at safeguarding in a sawmill/wood processing plant context. The MAG serves in an advisory capacity and reports to the board of the BCFSC. The Coast Harvesting Advisory Group, the Wood Pellet Association of Canada safety committee and the Trucking & Harvesting Advisory Group are other specialist committees operating in similar functions within the BCFSC.
The MAG was originally formed in 2009 when about a dozen forest licencees’ representatives operating in B.C. met periodically to share best practices in forest safety. The MAG became the nucleus of the forest industry response to the 2012 sawmill explosions and fires at two separate sawmills in central B.C. The incidents killed a total of four people and injured scores more.
The result of the response to the tragedies was the creation of an audit standard for the forest industry around the containments of combustible dust in wood processing plants. The decision was made by the CEOs of the licencees involved to formalize the MAG. In April, 2015, the MAG took up its current role within the BCFSC structure.
MAG members quizzed sawmill owners and operators on areas within their plants that might benefit from a more effective safety standard guarding control. Several areas were identified by respondents, including guarding issues associated with the principal equipment involved with the log breakdown sequence. But it was improvements in and around the planer that emerged as one of the key areas of common safety concern, recalls Darren Beattie, safety director with Conifex Timber Inc., a member company of the MAG.
Modern planers are high speed precision machines. They’re asked to handle a wood fibre diet these days that is frequently dry and more prone to breakage. Jam-ups are relatively frequent as a result, to the infeed and fibre flow through the planer. Worker safety issues arise while dealing with the jam-ups to restore productive material flow.
“It’s an area where serious injuries can happen,” reports Beattie.
A risk assessment planning process was followed with an engineering design for a planer safeguarding system. The MAG worked closely with WorkSafeBC throughout these stages, adds Beattie.
One of the challenges encountered revolved around seemingly contradictory regulations and definitions concerning what exactly constitutes maintenance and production modes in the context of planer operation. That, in turn, influenced the appropriate procedures that should be followed by workers, he explains.
The MAG and WorkSafeBC concluded a safe, workable device option was needed with a prior approved status. “We looked to technology and the infinite ways it offers to safely manage a planer room.”
The partners were looking for the most suitable control to safeguard against common worker habits like reaching in to equipment or venturing where they shouldn’t to solve a production disturbance. The proposed safeguard system works like a programmable logic computer, says Beattie. It can perform a variety of functions to ensure creation of a safer planer room. The proposed safeguard system has the additional ability to monitor itself, he continues. “This control is better suited because it’s passive, automatic and equipment won’t fire up,” summarizes Beattie. He notes similar types of devices have been used in other industries including food processing and automotive manufacturing.
The MAG investigative team reckons adoption of the proposed planer safeguard system will deliver the additional benefit of increased efficiency. “We estimate time losses due to (planer) jam-ups will be down by at least 30 per cent with this safeguard system,” predicts Beattie. “The planer room safeguard system will give the worker confidence that the room will be safe—and we also believe system use will reduce reduce mill downtime,” he concludes..
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Coping with Workplace Stress
While a little stress has been shown to actually improve performance and motivate workers, too much of it can do the opposite. Excessive job stress can stop you in your tracks, and leave you feeling exhausted and unable to effectively deal with your day-to-day responsibilities.
Break work into manageable chunks. While it's important to know the big picture, setting and concentrating on smaller, attainable goals along the way can help you stay on track and stop you from feeling overwhelmed.
Set boundaries. Learn to say "no" to extra tasks that push your workload over the edge.
Ask for help. By accepting the help of others, you'll not only unload some of your workload, but also come to appreciate the skills and new perspectives that your co-workers have to offer.
Clean your surroundings. Re-organize your office to make information and resources more accessible and free up additional space in your work area.
Get active. Studies show that exercise boosts your brain's production of natural mood lifters and spurs the release of neurotransmitters, which help you keep your mental and physical cool.
Accept change. Acknowledge that your workday may not unfold as you imagined. Uncertainties and change are not necessarily a negative part of your day; they simply require the application of different strategies.
Learn to focus on the present. View problems as opportunities to be creative and apply your skills and knowledge. This will allow you to not only tackle on-the-job stress, but also harness this energy to motivate and energize your career.
If, after attempting the above solutions, you are still burdened with stress at work, consider reaching out for help. Discuss the issue with your supervisor first; he or she may have insight on the root cause of your stress..
This wellness article is courtesy of Shepell at workhealthlife.com.
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SAFER is jointly
It is pretty clear to someone just hearing about SAFER that safety is the chief concern of this organization. The name, SAFER, stands for Safety Advisory Foundation for Education and Research. SAFER was created through broad negotiations between the IWA Canada (now United Steelworkers) and FIR on the coast and the IFLRA in the southern interior for the 1988-1991 master collective agreements in both regions.
SAFER continues to be jointly managed by USW, FIR, and the IFLRA where the industry and the union enjoy equal representation. Under the leadership of two Co-Chairs selected from the union and industry ranks, the SAFER Council coordinates its safety activities and initiatives under the guidance of eight safety advocate board members and six trustees.