The Invisible Threat

Caterpillar’s 5 Essentials of Fatigue Risk Management

Keeping productivity up, costs down and individuals safe is a continuous challenge in the construction industry. People and people processes are a source of competitive advantage for any company, particularly within industries that rely heavily on the labor force. Within the construction sector, workers need to be physically and mentally alert at all time as construction work typically involves heavy loads, awkward working postures and prolonged working hours. Consequently the majority of workplace injuries are related to fatigue, as it hinders a worker’s ability to think clearly and respond appropriately.

We partnered with Caterpillar Inc. to present this webinar and were delighted to invite Mitch Cowart, a Technology Solutions Consultant with Caterpillar Safety Services, to offer his expertise in fatigue risk management. Addressing a specific risk, such as fatigue, starts with a hard look at the organizational culture.

‘The shorter you sleep, the shorter your life’ is the conclusion of more than 20 large-scale epidemiological studies. Sleep deprivation (less than 7 hours sleep a night) has been linked to a number of diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, poor mental health and many more.

Modern day working hours and strict schedules further magnify the problem of sleep deprivation. According to Mitch Cowart, Harvard Medical School proved that insomnia leads to the loss of 11 days of productive work per year, costing $2,280 per person, equating to $63 Billion per year.

  • Those who work overtime have 61% more injuries.
  • Working a 12 hour day increases the hazard rate by 37%.
  • Working 60 hours per week increases work-related illness and injury by 23%.

Caterpillar Inc’s 5 Essentials of Fatigue Risk Management

1. A Process to Manage the Journey to Zero

Mitch explains that managing fatigue risk starts with a commitment from senior leadership, but all employees must be engaged in the effort. Culturally, everyone in the organization must engage to overcome traditional stigmas about fatigue. It is not a weakness or a character flaw — it is a biological force that impacts everyone. Shift workers whose schedules buck our genetic systems are at the highest risk. Once leaders understand the seriousness that fatigue risk poses, a process to quantify, mitigate and manage it can be followed.

2. Limiting the Cultural Stigmas Surrounding Fatigue and Sleep

Shame largely burdens organisational culture. Brené Brown, renowned shame-and-vulnerability expert, identified that perceived weakness is the primary source of shame for males, and it is a fear that often results in risky behaviors.

80% of people have Optimism Bias, which in layman’s terms is the belief that eans ‘it won’t happen to me’. 90% of incidents occur due to this kind of risky mentality and it is this attitude that’s becoming the norm.

To quantify the degree to which at-risk attitudes, beliefs and behaviors are impacting an organization’s safety performance, Caterpillar uses the Safety Perception Survey. This tool quantifies the gap between what managers and front-line supervisors believe about the safety culture in the organisation. The survey results therefore provide a compass to guide the improvement path.

3. Quality and Quantity of Sleep

Sleep quality is just as important as sleep quantity and tracking this is key to ensuring corrective measures are put in place to mitigate fatigue risk. The Cat™ Smartband system is powered by Fatigue Science and offers the ability for a company to see, understand and mitigate employee fatigue. The technology is highly accurate, using a smart wrist band that monitors an employee’s sleep patterns and biometric data against a selection of sleep factors. This generates a real-time alertness measurement and predictive analysis showing when the employee’s fatigue level will reach a dangerous point. Visibility to sleep trends and alertness patterns provides data to optimise work schedules for maximum productivity.

The Smartband enables risk mitigation on three fronts:

· Self Management = Worker + Cat Smartband + Mobile App

· Medical Management = Worker + Cat Smart Band + Mobile App +Analyse Tool + Occupational Health Staff

· Proactive Management = Worker + Cat Smart Band + Mobile App + Analyse Tool + Authorized Manager

This intelligent system quantifies fatigue risk and reveals mitigation opportunities, providing organizations data-driven insight to continuously reduce risk over time.

4. Sufficient Opportunities to get Sleep

Ensuring that employees have sufficient opportunities for the quantity and quality of sleep needed for optimal performance should not be taken lightly. This is achieved through efficient scheduling that is focused on individual capability and the level/intensity of work required, but it starts with gaining visibility to how schedules impact fatigue risk. The Smartband reveals sleep and alertness data which can be utilized in the Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool (FAST) to quantify risk and optimize scheduling

FAST was developed by the United States Air Force and has become the gold standard for predicting fatigue-related Using FAST analytics to adjust shifts by just one hour can dramatically reduce fatigue risk while increasing production.

5. Effective Controls in Mitigating Risk for Those Most Exposed

· Driver Safety System: An in-cab system that uses facial mapping technology to alert the operator if sleep or distraction occurs.. A brief video of the incident is transferred to a 24-hour monitoring center where safety advisors analyse and classify the event then follow a predetermined Fatigue Intervention Plan.

· Cat Detect for Personnel: The Liberty Mutual Workplace Index recognizes that ‘struck by’ injuries account for 10% of the workplace costs — $7 Billion per year. To remedy this Caterpillar Inc. has introduced an antenna that detects ground workers who enter the dangerous zone behind mobile equipment. The system alerts both the ground worker and the equipment operator.

· The Ergonomic Wearable: 350,000 back strains and sprains occur every year in the US, costing $44,000 per strains, equating to $15.1 Billion per year — 25% of workplace injury costs. Caterpillar utilizes an ergonomic support belt to teach the correct lifting technique in real time, delivering data to inform management decisions. The belt alerts the individual when they engage in a high risk posture. This data-driven insight can identify individuals at high risk, reveal higher risk times during a shift, etc. The device has led to 56% of workers experiencing less back pain and 80% of users would recommend this to their management.

The 5 essentials of fatigue risk management outlined by Mitch Cowart in this webinar not only highlight major contributing factors leading to fatigue risk but present real and pragmatic solutions to resolve, mitigate and manage fatigue risk. By reducing fatigue risk in your organisation, you will decrease costs and increase performance while improving safety, health and wellness for employees.

To gain a deeper understanding of the topics discussed, to listen to a number of stories and examples of the risks of fatigue, as well as listen to an in depth Q&A, please download our free webinar here!

The third and final edition of the Caterpillar Inc’s Global Safety Series will be covering the Psychology of Safety and will take place on June 20th. If you would like to register your interest, please click here.

James Baker
Digital Content Coordinator

Marcus Evans
101 Finsbury Pavement
London, EC2A 1RS



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