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Long workdays versus restdays: assessing fatigue and alertness with a portable performance battery.

Rosa RR; Colligan MJ
Hum Factors 1988 Jun; 30(3):305-317
A study of fatigue resulting from long work days was conducted. Eleven male volunteers, 18 to 25 years old, recruited from a temporary clerical and office employment service constituted the study group. They performed a data entry job simulation task for two 5 day, 12 hours/day work weeks that were separated by 2 days of rest. The effects of fatigue on job performance were evaluated by recording the number of errors. The subjects were administered a test battery consisting of tests of cognitive ability, sensory acuity, perceptual motor function, motor skills, a self report scale designed to measure sleepiness, and a mood scale at periodic intervals during the workdays and restdays. Oral temperatures were also recorded at these times. Errors on the data entry task increased progressively throughout the work week, the largest increases occurring at 1300 hours on the fourth and fifth workdays. Subjective sleepiness and negative feelings increased and positive feelings decreased on workdays relative to workdays. Performance on all tests in the battery were impaired on workdays relative to restdays except for tests of time estimation and two point auditory discrimination. Oral temperature was significantly elevated on workdays compared to restdays. The maximum temperatures occurred at 1500 hours. No diurnal influences on work rest differences were detected. The authors conclude that the results of the data entry job simulation and the scores on the test battery show that the work regimen is fatiguing. Fatigue effects on task performance are more important than circadian effects. The test battery is potentially useful for detecting deficits in performance and alertness associated with hours spent at work.
NIOSH-Author; Occupational-health; Physiological-fatigue; Task-performance; Laboratory-testing; Psychophysiology; Mental-processes; Behavioral-testing; Circadian-rhythms
Roger R. Rosa, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 4676 Columbia Pkwy., Cincinnati, OH 45226
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Journal Article
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Human Factors
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division