Friday, August 17, 2018
Transport Canada - Aviation Safety Letter Fatigue Risk Management System for the Canadian Aviation Industry: Fatigue Management Strategies for Employees (TP 14573E)

Fatigue Risk Management System for the Canadian Aviation Industry: Fatigue Management Strategies for Employees (TP 14573E)

This is the second in a seven-part series highlighting the work of the Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS) Working Group and the various components of the FRMS toolbox. This article deals with TP 14573E, a workbook designed for Transport Canada Civil Aviation employees. We encourage our readers to consult the complete toolbox documentation by visiting —Ed.

Why a training program on fatigue risk management?

Transport Canada is committed to improving aviation safety through the management of fatigue-related risks. To this end, a set of tools was developed to support the Canadian aviation industry in implementing a fatigue risk management system (FRMS) within safety management systems (SMS). An important part of an FRMS consists in training all employees in the management of fatigue as a safety hazard. To achieve this goal, the tools developed include various training materials that are designed to meet the business needs of participating organizations and the skills-development needs of their employees in relation to fatigue risk management.

Managing human resources has always been a demanding task, and now, more than ever, industry must acknowledge the unique needs of employees who work outside the Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 schedule. Non-traditional work-schedule designs have benefits for employers and employees. However, decisions made without thorough knowledge of the safety, family, or social impacts of such hours could result in shift patterns that compromise any potential benefits. Appropriate and efficient management of the workforce is crucial to meeting the demands of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) and ensuring high levels of work-site productivity.

What is the purpose of this workbook (TP 14573E)?

This workbook aims to provide the knowledge and skills to help you adopt appropriate fatigue-management strategies. More specifically, you will learn how to

  • monitor potential causes of fatigue and devise action plans to minimize their effects in accordance with company procedures;
  • identify personal warning signs of fatigue and appropriate countermeasures in accordance with workplace procedures to ensure that effective work capability and alertness are maintained;
  • make positive lifestyle choices to promote the effective long-term management of fatigue;
  • adopt and apply effective practices and countermeasures for combating fatigue; and
  • communicate your personal fatigue-management strategies to relevant people.

How to use this workbook?

This workbook involves a combination of theory and practical strategies related to both work and non-work situations. This study guide will be your reference during your training.

Each chapter begins with a list of learning outcomes. These are provided to organize the training around clearly defined outcomes that students are expected to demonstrate on completion. The content of each chapter includes background information on the featured topic and related practical strategies to minimize the effects of non-traditional work hours and fatigue. Topics covered include sleep, nutritional, physical, social, and work-design strategies to minimize the risk of fatigue.

Exercises are provided throughout the workbook. Students are asked to demonstrate that they can apply the knowledge learned to everyday situations by completing the exercises provided in each chapter. Knowledge checks are also included at the end of each chapter to allow students to verify whether they need to review some of the content or not.

Will this program be assessed?

Depending on the training format chosen by your company, you may have to complete an assessment to receive a certificate of completion for this course. Your trainer or supervisor will inform you if an assessment process will be used and of its exact format. An assessment can take various forms, including the ones described below.

If your training program includes classroom delivery for this course, the assessment could include group and case-study exercises (written and oral) to reinforce the course content.

By completing the exercises in each chapter of the workbook, you may demonstrate that you are able to apply this learning to your individual work situation. This type of assessment may be endorsed by the assessor or your supervisor.

You may be asked to complete an assessment exercise to show that you have retained knowledge and acquired skills from this training. This type of assessment involves answering questions on the content of this workbook (similar to the exercises and knowledge checks).

Skill achievement may also be demonstrated by maintaining a candidate’s log. This process requires you to record how you have applied the skills learned during the course in your specific work situation and daily life.

Working non-traditional hours—living in a 24-hour society
We live in a 24-hour society where many different work patterns have developed beyond the traditional Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 routine. An increasing proportion of the workforce is engaged in shift work and non-traditional schedules. Between 15 and 30 percent of the workforce of industrialized countries is engaged in shift work. In Finland, 25 percent of the working population are shift workers, while in Singapore that figure is closer to
32 percent. In Canada, approximately 30 percent of workers are employed in some form of shift work.

Working shifts or non-traditional hours involves more than just a work schedule. It is a way of life with a fundamental impact on not only work, but also sleep patterns and the management of health, family, and social lives. Research also indicates that shift work affects physical and mental health, as well as work performance.

Exercise 1. What are some of the personal difficulties that you or some of your co‑workers have experienced as a result of shift work or non-traditional working hours? ________________________________________________________

What is fatigue?
Fatigue is an experience of physical or mental weariness that results in reduced alertness. For most people, the major cause of fatigue is not having obtained adequate rest or recovery from previous activities. In simple terms, fatigue largely results from inadequate quantity or quality of sleep. This is because both the quantity (how much) and the quality (how good) of sleep are important for recovery from fatigue and maintaining normal alertness and performance. Furthermore, the effects of fatigue can be made worse by exposure to harsh environments and prolonged mental or physical work.

Inadequate sleep (whether because of lack of quality or quantity) over a series of nights causes a sleep debt, which results in increased fatigue that can sometimes be worse than a single night of inadequate sleep. A sleep debt can only be repaid with adequate recovery sleep.

Working outside the Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 routine can limit the opportunity for sleep and recovery in each 24-hour period. Working outside this schedule can reduce the amount of sleep you get by between one and three hours per day. This is because these hours of work

  • limit the amount of time available for sleep; and
  • disrupt the body clock, which is programmed for activity during the day and sleep at night.

In addition to sleeping less, people who work non-traditional hours often obtain sleep of a lower quality.

In the current 24-hour, 7-day-a-week society, there are many reasons that workers do not obtain the quality or quantity of sleep that they require to be adequately rested. Some of these reasons are work-related and some are non-work related. Examples of work-related fatigue factors are

  • hours of work (especially night work, early-morning starts, and high total number of hours);
  • task demands or time pressures that do not allow for adequate breaks during shifts; and
  • working conditions that may compound fatigue (for example, heat stress and time pressures).

Examples of non-work-related fatigue factors include

  • undiagnosed or untreated sleep disorders; and
  • individual family or social factors that take priority over sleep.

Exercise 2. Identify at least two causes of work-related fatigue that have affected you during your working life.

For more discussions, exercises, and case studies on topics such as symptoms of fatigue, sleep, or napping, visit

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