n Ergonomics SA : Journal of the Ergonomics Society of South Africa - Good sleep, good health, good performance. It's obvious, or is it? The importance of education programmes in general fatigue management

Volume 26, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1010-2728



Obtaining sufficient sleep is critical for effective recovery, performance and the maintenance of health. There is general consensus that sleep loss has become an occupational risk factor that is associated with reduced performance and productivity, increased risk and negative long term health developments. Within the workplace, the practice of shift work and other types of atypical work schedules have been linked to sleep loss. In the context of aviation, an ultra-safe industry, the management of sleep loss and fatigue is critical; this can be achieved through the implementation of Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS), which form part of the overall Safety Management System. These systems provide a multi-layered approach to managing specific risks in an industry such as aviation. A major component of FRMS (that is sometimes neglected) is the inclusion of a scientifically-based educational and awareness programme that provides training and information about how best to manage the effects of atypical work schedules. More specifically, these programmes highlight the associated health and work-related risks, how to practice good sleep hygiene in the contexts of both the work and home environments and mechanisms to recognise and manage fatigue and sleepiness while at work. Despite requiring extensive investments of time and expertise, these education programmes do contribute to empowering the worker to take responsibility for their own 'fitness for duty', which in turn assists in proactively reducing the incidence of fatigue and sleepiness-related events.

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