January 27, 2018

Fatigue and an incident

A worker on a pipe laying barge suffered a blackout without warning and fell. The worker had no previous medical condition and had passed a pre-employment medical the day before the event. He was medivaced for treatment of cuts and bruises and underwent further extensive medical examination. The examination did not find any medical condition that could explain the blackout.
The worker had been working for at least 22 hours, including travelling. After arrival on the facility and induction he went straight into night shift. He suffered the blackout in the first shift. Had he been operating heavy equipment or machinery, the consequence of the blackout could have been far more significant.
A significant contributing factor for the above case is fatigue. The effects of fatigue vary from individual to individual. They can include impaired decision making, delayed response time, inability to concentrate, reduced alertness, and blackout. In the cases above, the site management team failed to manage the risk associated with fatigue. There was a perceived need to carry on with the job.
Key Lessons
Recognise fatigue as a serious safety risk that requires appropriate risk management. Fatigue can cause impaired decision marking, delayed response time, inability to concentrate, and reduced alertness.
Set a clear policy relating to hours of work and communicate it to management and employees. Include travel time as working hours.
Courtesy: NOSPA

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