Worker fatigue is a risk that every industry experiences. Alertness is influenced by many different factors, such as sleep, diet, time of day, yet many employers are ill-equipped to assess fitness-for-duty when employees begin their shift. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 69% of workers feel fatigued at work. Leaving worker cognition out of the picture can have severe and even life-threatening ramifications depending on your field's safety-sensitivity.
New Regulations for the Canadian Air Transport Industry
Although air travel is currently at an all-time low due to the transmissibility of COVID-19, Transport Canada will soon begin to implement new regulations to curb pilot fatigue later this year. There are two main takeaways from these upcoming rules: 1) the maximum amount of time a pilot can fly in a given time period is reduced, and 2) transitioning to a performance-based approach by introducing a Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS).
"The airline industry is not immune to pilot fatigue, and unfortunately, it has led to near-miss accidents, and the AC759 landing into San Francisco back in 2017 is just one instance of this," said Rob Pettigrew, VP of Product Management at Aware360. "Decreasing shift times and allowing more rest in between shifts will help, but there needs to be a system in place that is scientific and data-driven, and we believe Aware4Duty fulfills that need".
What is FRMS? (Fatigue Risk Management Systems)
A Fatigue Risk Management System is centred around monitoring and controlling for fatigue-related safety risks in a data-driven fashion. There are four main components of a successfully FRMS:
- The operator must understand who is responsible in their organization, how their FRMS works, and how the FRMS will be monitored.
- Fatigue risks must be identified, assessed, and mitigated through a data-driven process.
- Operators must communicate the FRMS and fatigue-related information through competency-based training.
- The operator must regularly audit and review their FRMS to improve its effectiveness and ensure compliance with safety regulations.
The new Transport Canada regulations will be implemented in December 2020 for major operators and December 2022 for smaller and regional operators. In response, airlines need to begin transitioning to a performance-based safety culture that is dynamic and responds to factors such as fatigue and cognitive impairment.
Fitness-for-Duty Technology Manages Fatigue in the Workplace
Currently on the market, there are a noticeable amount of fatigue assessment technologies that airlines can implement into their Fatigue Risk Management System. Some solutions are currently use “biomathematical” models in conjunction with wristbands to predict a worker’s susceptibility to fatigue throughout the day. Newer solutions are beginning to install cameras into fleet that can detect fatigue through changes in head and eye movements.
Unfortunately, many of these tools require expensive sensors and are seen to be invasive, affecting worker privacy. Aware4Duty, Aware360’s fitness-for-duty software, uses a graphics-based assessment to detect fatigue and impairment in less than 60 seconds. With validation from the NIH and NIOSH, Aware4Duty is non-invasive, language-agnostic, and is free from gamification. Employers will have access to fatigue insights and analytics to gain better visibility of their team's cognitive performance.
Safe Return to Work and Return Home
Throughout this transition back to work, employers in safety-sensitive industries, like air transportation, must be aware of their crew’s fitness-for-duty and their ability to perform without any lapses in judgement. Operators must develop a safety program that is consistently improving and invest into science-based safety technologies to control fatigue-related impairment. By doing so, airlines will be able to fulfill their Duty of Care they owe to their crew members, passengers, and public at large.
Aware360 understands people are the most important part of any workplace and provides the tools to keep employees safe throughout their day.
Driven by our passion for people, the Aware360 suite of solutions leverages edge devices such as smartphones, wearables and satellite communicators to improve safety and productivity while reducing corporate risk. Visit aware360.com to learn more.