Mining Project: Mining Applications of Novel Interventions for Fatigue--Evaluating Safety Toolkits (MANIFEST)
To develop evidence-based fatigue toolkits, enabling mines to sustainably and independently measure fatigue, interpret fatigue assessments, and select, implement, and evaluate appropriate interventions related to mineworker fatigue.
Many miners experience fatigue, but no evidence-based industry standard is in place to easily identify common risk factors, deliver effective interventions, or support the development of a fatigue management system that could be used to mitigate injuries due, in part, to workplace fatigue.
Mining is especially susceptible to worker fatigue due to the combination of environmental factors known to induce fatigue: dim lighting; limited visual acuity; high temperatures; loud noise; highly repetitive, sustained, and monotonous tasks; shiftwork; long work hours; early morning awakenings; and generally poor sleep habits. The precise burden of fatigue in mining is largely unknown, but some estimates suggest that on average there is one “fatigue-related event” per 52 hours of haul truck operation, and that 1 second out of every 9 hours of haul truck operation is spent with the driver asleep [Caterpillar Inc., 2016]. Additionally, sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) remain a substantive concern among large and commercial vehicle operators, not only due to the higher prevalence rate of OSA among working drivers (28%-78%) compared to the general adult U.S. population (14%-55%), but also because untreated OSA is linked to transportation collisions among passenger and commercial drivers (21% to 489% higher risk compared to those without OSA) [Gurubhagavatula et al., 2017]. Beyond motor vehicle operation, research on miners has shown that sleep loss accumulated over consecutive work days (especially for night shift workers) affects reaction times in similar ways to alcohol (Muller et al., 2008) and that “skill-based error” safety incidents were almost four times more likely to involve a miner who had an “adverse physiological state” (i.e., fatigue, illness, etc.) [Lenne et al., 2012]. Needless to say, the presence of such estimates in the absence of evidence-based guidance remains a great concern for industry.
There is a need to understand the relative effectiveness of specific interventions for managing mineworker fatigue depending on the type of fatigue, the type of mine, and the individual variation and job tasks between workers. NIOSH researchers are not aware of any other research or industry groups engaged in activities aiming to compare advantages of several workplace interventions on sleep and fatigue in the workplace. In mining specifically, research is needed on managing mineworker fatigue from a health and safety return-on-investment framework. NIOSH’s Spokane Mining Research Division (SMRD) can address this need by leveraging existing relationships with industry, academia, and other NIOSH divisions and workgroups. These diverse partnerships offer a wealth of expertise and skill necessary to complete much-needed work in this area.
By systematically evaluating the effectiveness of multipronged mineworker fatigue initiatives (e.g., sleep hygiene training, individual sleep plans, shift scheduling using biomathematical models, no-blame reporting channels, sleep disorder screening, mindfulness/relaxation programs, sleep environment evaluation, planned naps at work, etc.), NIOSH and the mining industry could develop validated tools to attenuate fatigue health and safety issues through concrete research-to-practice solutions and scientific validation. If properly implemented and disseminated, evidence-based standards could be developed by NIOSH for fatigue management systems in the mining industry. Such work would have relevance for all mining segments and commodities.
This project will address five research aims, as follows:
- To identify and characterize best practices for field assessment of mineworker fatigue by comparing longitudinal fatigue assessment data from survey, biometric, cognitive, physiological, motion capture, and other miscellaneous sources with respect to cost-effectiveness, quality of data, reliability and validity over time, and ease of use.
- To develop industry-specific worker fatigue intervention(s), including trainee materials, instructor guides, mobile device applications, and/or supplemental resources.
- To implement targeted mineworker fatigue interventions at a mine site that integrate with the existing work organization, allow for employee ownership of health and safety solutions, and foster sustainability.
- To evaluate the effectiveness of interventions on a site-wide level by assessing fatigue-related risk before and after intervention deployment.
- To refine and disseminate intervention and participatory worker health program materials by creating a customizable toolkit for public use.
For more information on worker fatigue and sleep, see the resources below:
September 13-14, 2019: Working Hours, Sleep, & Fatigue Discussion Symposium Forum
Caterpillar Inc. . Fight fatigue with a multi-level approach (Infographic).
Gurubhagavatula I, Sullivan S, Meoli A, Patil S, Olson R, Berneking M, Watson NF . Management of obstructive sleep apnea in commercial motor vehicle operators: recommendations of the AASM Sleep and Transportation Safety Awareness Task Force. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine: JCSM: Official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine 13(5):745.
Lenne MG, Salmon PM, Liu CC, Trotter M . A systems approach to accident causation in mining: An application of the HFACS method. Accident Analysis and Prevention 48:111.
Muller R, Carter A, Williamson A . Epidemiological diagnosis of occupational fatigue in a fly-in-fly-out operation of the mineral industry. Annals of Occupational Hygiene 52:63.