Fatigue and the Transport Industry

Here is an interview from ABC Radio National in 2011 that is really great.

We recommend that you listen to the full interview if you can.


Because according to sleep expert Professor Drew Dawson, Australians have the greatest percentage of workers working over 55 hours a week in the developed world.

Additionally, Australians have the second highest average working hours anywhere in the world.

This excellent discussion covers a few of the burning questions that many people are not aware of, or denying, when fatigue is discussed. Such as:

1. Why the fatigue rulings are ignoring how people ARRIVE at work. All the concentration is on how many hours workers have been working etc – nothing about what condition they arrive at work in the first place.

2. How is fatigue defined as the cause of an accident – e.g. road accident. Very interesting to know that it isn’t called fatigue unless it is a single vehicle accident, which makes it very unlikely to occur within 100 kilometres of a post office. It is not called fatigue if the driver is killed, etc. It is the definition of fatigue that varies within states that makes the figures vary significantly – e.g. from 5 percent to 30 percent for fatigue related accidents. And it’s not counted as fatigue if an accident happens at 10 am. Hmmm, they are just some of the examples.

3. How the introduction of cruise control brought on driver disengagement – and resulted in accidents going up. The trucking companies that had previously installed cruise control were then very busy taking it out of trucks.

4. Recognition by Simon Smith, researcher at the Queensland University of Technology, that the work starting time can make a measurable difference to accidents and performance at work. e.g. getting up at 5 am or 6 am (I can personally relate to the 5 am wake up problems, not my circadian rhythm preference!).

It is hard to believe in 2013-4 I’m continually being asked by fatigue “experts” and trainers “What has fatigue got to do with sleep?”, and “what has sleep got to do with work”?

If it wasn’t killing people daily, these questions might seem like jokes.

Finally the comment made by Drew Dawson that about half the time people are fatigued at work its due to factors OUTSIDE OF WORK.

For people with a clue this statement seems very obvious. Duh! But with my experience when talking to organizations, businesses, schools etc I’m so glad that the statement was made!

Of course part of that “outside of work” activities must include quality sleep for every person.

Here’s the link to the full interview:


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