Companies learn to fight fatigue
BY SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
2/05/13 at 2:41 AM
Some decisions made on the job have grave consequences, and people who are tired or weary are more likely to suffer performance issues that can lead to poor decision-making, said Mark Sherwood, the founder and president of 4E Fitness, which teaches organizations about overall wellness and how to prevent fatigue.
Sherwood said many people don't get enough sleep. The average amount of sleep people report is about 6 1/2 hours, when it should be closer to eight hours.
The Explorer Pipeline company contacted Sherwood after new regulations on the pipeline industry required the company to have a fatigue mitigation plan and provide education for its employees.
Central control technicians work 12-hour shifts and the control center is open 24 hours a day.
"It's always been something we've been concerned about," said Kraig Caldwell, manager of the control center at Explorer. "Four o'clock in the morning is four o'clock in the morning, no matter who you are."
To help avoid fatigue, consoles can be adjusted so that controllers can stand while working and exercise balls are available for employees to sit on.
There is also someone who can step in and take over if a controller becomes fatigued or needs to take a break or go for a walk.
"We've put a lot into place to help just getting up and moving," Caldwell said.
Controller Joe Jackson said much of what Sherwood taught the employees has stuck with him, including how nutrition and time management can relate to fatigue.
"You have to be conscious of the time you have and use it wisely," he said.
He also appreciated that spouses were encouraged to come to the training, he said.
Sherwood, who is a sergeant with the Tulsa Police Department and is in charge of their wellness training, said lack of sleep can be caused by shift work, improper nutrition or not scheduling well, among other factors.
People still work when they're tired but their output is not ideal, and in some situations it can be dangerous.
Going without sleep for 17 hours to 19 hours is equivalent to having a blood alcohol level of 0.05, and no sleep for 24 hours can be the same as having a blood alcohol level of 0.1, he said.
"We're having to perform but we're doing it in a fatigued manner and not making our best decisions," he said.
Sherwood trains law enforcement personnel, who have to make important decisions frequently.
"You have to make sure you're getting enough rest because those critical decisions, they can mean life and death," he said.
Consequences of a lack of sleep include depression, obesity and stress, Sherwood said.
He recommends people get up at the same time every day, avoid caffeine and strenuous exercise about three hours before going to bed and turn off the TV and get away from loud noises when trying to sleep.
"They're just practical things we can do, but it makes a big difference," he said.
Shannon Muchmore 918-581-8378
Steve Brewer (top) replaces a prover hydraulic ram seal at Explorer Pipeline's Glenpool tank farm. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World file