How would you deal with work fatigue?

Have you worked the graveyard shift? Got any survival tips?

Despite several recent incidents of controllers suspected of sleeping on duty, they won’t be allowed to schedule naps into their work shifts to mitigate fatigue, AJC reporter Marcus Garner writes.

At the same time, new work rules have been designed to address the problem, Garner reports.  One change: Controllers will get what officials called recuperative breaks, in which they will be allowed to step away from their work stations, stretch their legs, grab some coffee or get some fresh air.

Will that work?

Reports of sleeping controllers highlight an often ignored hazard: Workers on night shifts can have trouble concentrating and even staying awake, Associated Press writes.

“Government officials haven’t recognized that people routinely fall asleep at night when they’re doing shift work,” Dr. Charles Czeisler, chief of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told AP. Czeisler said studies show that 30 percent to 50 percent of night-shift workers report falling asleep at least once a week while on the job.

What do you think should be done? Would naps even work? One problem — it might take a long time for a controller or many other workers to unwind from high-stress jobs to reach restful sleep.

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

11 comments Add your comment

B. Obama

April 19th, 2011
7:22 am

I have been asleep on the job for the last 3 years. What’s the problem?

Belinda

April 19th, 2011
7:52 am

I worked graveyard shift for 7 years. I never got used to it. Recuperative breaks are vital. Yes, many night shift workers fall asleep. If people don’t know this, then they’ve never worked night shift. I think it is imperative to have 2 people on duty to cover the responsiblity.

TnGelding

April 19th, 2011
8:18 am

B. Obama

April 19th, 2011
7:22 am

Funny!

But some people can do more than one thing at a time and can delegate authority. Not that I’m not disappointed in him. Some would argue he has done too much.

One thing we did at Lockheed was only require the midnight shift to work 6.5 hours. The other two shifts made up the diffference by scheduling staggered breaks and lunches. Maybe they should just go to parttime help and cover 4 hours at a time?

http://blogs.ajc.com/business-beat/2011/04/19/power-breakfast-dealing-with-air-traffic-controller-fatigue-oil-and-gas-prices-u-s-debt-gm-china/#comment-31868

Mr. Charlie

April 19th, 2011
8:53 am

Humans need to sleep period. It shouldn’t that hard to figure out a way develop a schedule/system that is efficient and safe for all. There is too much information available on humans and sleep patterns that can help the FAA and its employees come up with a better way of doing things and keep air traffic safe.

tommy

April 19th, 2011
8:58 am

I worked 12 hr. night shifts for over 16 years and never slept one time on the job. If they fired a few of these people or a plane crashed was directly linked to them and they got sent to prison they would wake up.
It is a job sp man up and do it. Quit acting like its a daunting task that no one can do. You are sitting down in front of a computer screen talking on a radio. I think they are pampered wimps that the union is protecting. Look at cops, firefighters, nurses, ER workers, soldiers, factory workers. The problem is the UNION letting these people be sorry workers and at some point lives will be lost because they are not doing their job.
What needs to happen is what the great Ronald Reagan did back in the day – YOUR FIRED!

Speedygurl

April 19th, 2011
9:23 am

In my work environment, 80% of the people that work the night shift…CHOOSE to work the night shift which is a 8 hour tour. CHOOSE to stay awake, perform your task, and get some rest during your off hours. Lazy people who take advantage of companies by whining about having to work the night shift, should SEEK jobs that have traditional hours. (Oh and don’t forget about the night differential they are compensated for)

The air traffic controller rest period issue has been an issue for a very long time.

Ex nightshifter

April 19th, 2011
10:03 am

The problem the FAA has is the rotating schedule. This does not allow someone to get into a good sleep pattern for any shift. What many companies do is have permanently assigned to the night shift. This allows the workers to get into a good sleep pattern. I worked night shift for 3 years, once I adjusted I was fine. Another issue with rotating shifts is that some people have sleep disorders and need a fixed schedule in order to get proper rest. Many sleep disorders are undiagnosed.

Shadow7071

April 19th, 2011
12:32 pm

I visit a lot of different work places and, frankly, I see a lot of people who look fatigued or sleep deprived. When you talk with people you discover just how many are up late at night on the internet, watching tv, playing games, or communicating with friends and family via phone or the internet. We just don’t want to give up the day to get some sleep. I guess there are just too many attractions or distractions to sleep and rest.

winkasdad29

April 19th, 2011
1:43 pm

I find it amazing that people are taking shots at those who fall asleep on the job at night because of unions, laziness. As a person who worked night shift for 3 years, and worked night shift on the front end of a double tour workday on occasion, I understand what night workers go through.

Everyone who works nights doesn’t volunteer for it. Neither can everyone make the adjustment and never fall asleep. What some fail to realize is that you also have personal business that has to be conducted during daylight hours, and that can deprive you of sleep.

When I worked nights, my break was to do whatever I wanted – as long as I get back to work on time. I would often take a nap on my break, and have an alarm or other co-worker come to wake me up. I finally reached a point that I had chronic insomnia during the day when I was supposed to be sleeping, and had to stop working nights.

TnGelding

April 20th, 2011
3:53 am

tommy

April 19th, 2011
8:58 am

You might not have “slept on the job,” but can you honestly say you never fell asleep? Maybe you’re “misrememberig.”

Luckie1

April 21st, 2011
1:18 am

As a nurse working 12 hour nights for brief periods. I will never forget wrecking my car coming home from work early one morning. I had an awful, hard night with three critically ill patients and no break. I thought my eyes were wide open. By the grace of God, I was saved. Most of all, no one else was hurt. Lesson learned. No more working nights in Georgia. If I am going to work nights, it will be at a hospital that offer mandatory breaks and adequate patient load (hint: California) California might be broke but the nurses are treated well.
In the nursing career, it is rare for new nurses to get the prime day shift. Most start on nights.