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Procedures and Devices to Monitor Operator Alertness Whilst Operating Machinery - Stage 3

Open Cut » Health and Safety

Published: March 02Project Number: C9032

Get ReportAuthor: Nick Mabbott | ARRB Transport Research

This project was aimed at building on the extensive experience of fatigue-related issues gained in the road safety area to develop solutions for the open-cut coal mining industry. It followed the parent projects that investigated technological solutions to fatigue and developed pilot trials to test a possible solution. ACARP also funded the parent projects.

A device was developed based on the concept of early warnings of fatigue as measured by slow reactions to visual stimuli. It was trialed at the Burton Downs and Mt Owen coal mines, with supplementary data obtained from a separate trial at the Marandoo iron ore mine in Western Australia. A simulator trial at Murdoch University supplied video data to validate the device.

The device was trialed over 18 months in the four situations, enabling sufficient data to assess the practical utility of the device and to a lesser extent, the scientific validity of the monitor. The device shows high validity at detecting alert and very tired episodes, as shown by the eye measure taken within the trials. It is argued that high validity of the intermediate performance levels will be realised when the stimulus interval period is reduced from its current 11 to 15 minutes apart, to 7 to 9 minutes apart.

The device had a small percentage of false alarms and very few misses within the trials. However, as no present technology will detect every tired episode, the device must not be depended upon to alert people to every tired operator. Rather, the device should be used to assist in the detection of tired operators above those who are willing to raise their hand and state they are tired and a danger to work with.

It has become evident that a good fatigue management system will consist of both technology and fatigue education. A Personal Pro-Active Fatigue Management Program is near completion that utilises educational awareness of personal sleep requirements and countermeasures, together with the data obtainable from the fatigue monitoring system. From this, a personal fatigue profile will be developed to pro-actively manage fatigue. The system will be implemented and evaluated in 2002/2003.

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