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PSHSA launches research initiative for workplace fatigue

| www.cos-mag.com

Ontario's Public Services Health and Safety Association (PSHSA) has announced it is working with a leading work-related injuries researcher to understand the impact and prevention of fatigue in the workplace.

PSHSA is providing researcher Lora Cavuoto with Fatigue Science Readibands, a wearable wrist-worn technology that monitors sleep, activity and fatigue. Wearing the Readibands, Cavuoto's study participants will be asked to perform a set of tasks, with participants’ natural variation in sleep-related fatigue and work-load factored in to the experiment. With this data, Cavuoto will be able to estimate fatigue based on work schedule, sleep and work conditions, and test these findings in a real-life scenario.

The goal is to gather data-driven research to understand the impact of fatigue and implement innovative solutions to prevent it as a workplace hazard, said PSHSA.

Studies have shown that fatigue is about four times more likely to contribute to workplace impairment than drugs or alcohol, and a fatigued worker is at 70 per cent greater risk of accident than a non-fatigued worker.

“We know that fatigue in the workplace is a major health and safety issue,” said Glenn Cullen, vice-president of corporate programs and product development at PSHSA. “We need to learn how to prevent fatigue in the workplace and new technology like Fatigue Science Readibands will help us develop effective fatigue risk management programs. We are aiming to develop ways to intervene before fatigue becomes a risk to the health and safety of workers and control the hazard once it has been identified.”

The research will evaluate the interaction of sleep-based fatigue and workload in targeted industries that utilize shifts such as emergency services environments, nursing and manufacturing. This research will also evaluate fatigue mitigating interventions for the purpose of improving program effectiveness in the workplace.

“Today, we have little understanding of when and how fatigue intervention should be implemented,” said Cavuoto. “This research partnership with PSHSA will allow us to build first-of-its-kind fatigue interventions and customize them for particular industries, like fire departments, police and mining to name a few.”

The study is scheduled to begin in the fall and run through summer 2016.

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