How do you deal with worker fatigue — especially if the workers have other lives in their hands like air traffic controllers?
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. Their union floated that idea.
“We don’t pay people to sleep at work at the FAA,” the agency’s top administrator, Randy Babbitt, told Atlanta controllers Monday, echoing words Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood used earlier in the day. “I don’t know anybody that pays people to sleep at work.”
Babbitt told several dozen controllers at the FAA’s Terminal Radar Approach Control center in Peachtree City that, even if the rules allowed controllers to schedule naps during shifts, professionalism would not, Garner writes.
At the same time, Babbitt introduced new work rules designed to address the problem of fatigue, 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.
Other rule changes include adding an additional mandatory hour of rest time between scheduled shifts, prohibiting schedule swapping that may cut into the required nine hours between shifts, and prohibiting controllers from starting midnight shifts after a day off, Garner writes.
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