PERSPECTIVES ON TOOLS
Productivity in management relies on people, processes and tools.
Processes capture the combined and recognised experience of the organisation in terms of how best to complete a task. Processes represent but one tool for managers to use for compliance with their Governance obligations.
In creating processes, managers can be assured that employees have operating instructions in place. This is not only essential for Governance but it is also a way of guiding employees to use Best Practise as these processes should reflect the knowledge of how tasks should be performed to be operationally productive as well as safe.
Tools are an essential part of productivity and FRMSc are developing a range of them to aid implementation of FRMS. They fall into six categories:
- Traditional tools to measure sleep and fatigue
- Actiwatches and analytical software
- Paper based sleep and workload diaries
These tools are the traditional tools that are used in fatigue studies. Psychomotor Vigilance Task(PVT) tools to measure reaction time are also available and are regarded by some as the gold standard form measuring fatigue.
However, the sleep diaries and actiwatch combination usually gives fast and accurate results without the need for the more expensive PVT option. More, it is sometimes believed that some occupational groups can learn the PVT test so even when tired, they perform very well. It is also pointed out that the PVT test can be very boring and lengthy so volunteers may lose the motivation to properly complete it. FRMSc has a large data base of past measurements of fatigue and can compare the results of fatigue studies with past results for quality assurance purposes.
- Perspectives on bio-mathematical models
Predictive fatigue models are a very useful way to quickly and inexpensively identify a fatigue hazard. When initially assessing the fatigue hazard, one may do many fatigue studies to identify the likely routes and roster structures that are causing fatigue or one can run all rosters quickly through a fatigue model. The latter is a very quick and inexpensive strategy whilst the other can be slow and very expensive to accomplish to achieve the same result.
Models are just models; they are not reality. Some give a good approximation of the likely fatigue of the average employee of the occupational group under scrutiny but all will not give the precise fatigue of a particular employee. Some models do provide a feature where sleep predictions can be changed to reflect precise sleep behaviours of an individual, to do this for every individual in a large group such as all the pilots in a large airline, is beyond the reach of every current model.
Using the notion of the average employee/pilot/engineer etc. a user can analyse the likely fatigue that the average employee will experience for the roster design planned. Should the actual population of employees then report fatigue, it may be due to lifestyle issues or problems with sleeping accommodation on layover or on board the aircraft. If fatigue is reported on rosters that appear to be acceptable for the average employee, then an exploratory interview ought to identify if there is a work related issue and it may then be appropriate to do a study to measure the actual fatigue on that pattern.
Experience suggests that once the company schedules are stabilised, for the large majority any fatigue reported is normally associated with lifestyle or problems with hotels. There will be some who report fatigue and therefore some exploration of the underlying issues will be required. These have been known to uncover sleep disorders and in extremis, the early onset of cancer has been diagnosed.
In summary, predictive models should not be used as a de facto measure of fatigue but as a very good indicator of likely fatigue for the average. They can be used as the first stage assessment of whether a particular planned roster is fatiguing or whether the cause is likely to be a lifestyle issue. They are particularly useful at identifying the scale and scope of hazards in any roster. Analysing an organisation’s rosters at the start of the FRMS implementation process is a particularly sensible and rewarding action to take.
- Data collection tools
The traditional method of collecting subjective fatigue data is to ask for volunteers to compile a sleep and activity diary. This traditionally has been either paper based or occasionally has been ported onto a Psion or another such PDA. These platforms do the job effectively and are still in use. However, with the growing adoption of the iPad platform by the aviation industry, apps are becoming available to do the same job a bit more easily and quickly.
- A typical sleep diary is shown in the image below, click to view larger image.
- On line surveys
On line surveys are easy to set up inexpensively once the relevant software is in place. The huge advantages are that all target employees can be invited to participate wherever they are in the world and either identified or not identified depending on the nature of the survey.
Managers may be prepared to be identified when offering comment on the barriers to their task of implementing a programme but employees may prefer to remain anonymous. The benefit of anonymity is rewarded by the employer receiving some key information about the barriers to progress and of course building trust with the employee groups.
Standard surveys include
- a Gap Analysis tool for evaluation what elements of an FRMS already exist and what elements are required to be developed
- a survey for measuring employee engagement
- a survey for assessing the development of FRMS within an organisation
- a survey to detect any hot spots for fatigue
Surveys can be created very quickly to cover every requirement.
- Process documentation
Processes for implementing FRMS must be documented. As in every business process, they must be written clearly so that all may understand precisely what they contain and hold no ambiguity. They are an essential element to the process itself and of course an essential tool for auditing purposes.
Some essential documents that are required are:
- An FRMS operating manual containing all the processes and metrics used.
- A Policy document
- Terms of Reference for the Fatigue Safety Action Group
- A fatigue report
Education is the first stage of every business process. At the outset, the initial champion of change must do research to compile sufficient evidence to support the idea that change is good for the organisation. After that, sufficient knowledge is required to enable even the initial tranche of investment required from the CEO to move the project to a stage where implementation is considered. No CEO will invest anything without a good reason and a sensible return on the investment.
Education is required for those early adopters within an organisation who want to see the hazard of fatigue identified and managed properly. Once they are educated, they will be able to articulate their case better and win the necessary approvals to process, which will entail other stakeholders being educated.
Training modules can both be online and classroom based. With classroom training, an interaction between delegate and trainer can be very rewarding to flesh out issues that are unclear or need a different approach. Classroom training is more useful for difficult-to-understand subjects that may challenge the delegates.
Alternatively, on line training can be inexpensive per trainee as no trainer is involved apart from setting up the course. No travel costs are involved and the trainee can choose the time most appropriate for them to take the course. They can be taken without geographic restriction. However, on line training lends itself to the more easy-to-comprehend subjects and subjects that require a level of intellectual debate are best handled in a classroom setting. On line training is particularly useful for refresher training.
These tools enhance the advice given by FRMSc in their use. A Statistical analysis service is also available.
More details on these can be found under the Training tab
Managing Occupational Alertness Makes Good Business Sense