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Development of a Risk Management Tool for Shiftwork in the Mining Industry

Open Cut » Health and Safety

Published: November 02Project Number: C10032

Get ReportAuthor: Carmel Bofinger | SIMTARS

This project developed practical risk management tools that could be used by the mining industry to:

  • assess health and safety risks associated with fatigue and shiftwork;
  • identify and assess current and potential control measures;
  • identify and assess measures for the on-going assessment of risks associated with fatigue and shiftwork.

Given the limited amount of data available on factors affecting fatigue in mining, data gathering tools were used to investigate the impact of shiftwork on workers, including:

  • Health and lifestyle questionnaire - Health and lifestyle factors that can impact on how shiftwork affects workers and the impact of shiftwork on workers and families were investigated using a questionnaire.
  • Sleep and alertness logs were kept by workers for 14 days and covered both sleep quantity and quality and the alertness during work periods.

The site work included four risk assessments based on the project model. Two additional risk assessments were completed at mines that have not participated in the data gathering parts of the project and one was completed with a contracting company. Given the limited quantitative information available on fatigue in the workplace, a qualitative risk assessment was an appropriate process that allowed the identification and ranking of the risks associated with fatigue.

The project used the results of the site work to develop a matrix for assessing risks associated with shiftwork and fatigue. This matrix allowed for site specific variations. Despite differences between the mines involved in the project, there were many common factors under each heading that contributed to fatigue. This allowed the information gathered in each of the risk assessments to be combined to give an overall industry perspective.

The factors leading to fatigue in the workplace were considered under the following areas:

  • Work related
    • Roster design
    • Task related
    • Work environment
  • Non-work related.

The ordering of the risks that resulted from the risk assessments was consistent with the data obtained from the questionnaires and sleep and alertness logs.

Many of the factors that contribute to fatigue have current controls in place. In some areas these controls are not adequate to effectively control the risks. This lead to the identification of some additional control factors that could assist in controlling the fatigue risk. These were also summarised to address the common identified factors contributing to fatigue.

A number of tools to assist in the risk management process were developed through the project.

The coal mining industry is aware of the need to manage fatigue for legislative and regulatory requirements and also for health and safety reasons for workers. The risk management process will assist mines and employees in the management of fatigue and shiftwork.

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