Trucker fatigue is a problem that lawmakers have tried to fix with regulations. But regulations alone aren’t enough. The issue requires a more complex solution than a few new rules—and it’s a safety challenge that extends beyond our roadways.
In his regular column for Safety Decisions, Ray Prest addresses the scope of the problem:
“Fatigue is a universal issue. It affects every worker in every industry. The conversation about tired drivers should extend far beyond the transportation sector. If there’s one topic that should keep every safety manager up at night, it’s fatigue.”
Fatigue is a growing problem, but Prest notes that employers have the ability to help workers effectively address fatigue at work and on the road. To do so, they need to meaningfully target fatigue in three areas: scheduling, off-the-job training and self-awareness.
Scheduling can have a huge impact on worker fatigue. Simply being able to sleep a little longer, or take a second break, can make the difference between focus and distraction. Adjustments to scheduling can reduce the problem of fatigue, save lives and prevent injuries, often without affecting performance outcomes.
Off-the-job training and self-awareness are a little more tricky for safety professionals to address. There are no regulations governing these two areas, but their impact cannot be denied and organizations should look into updating training solutions to include them.
The problem of fatigue is clear. Although fatigue-related regulations for truckers come from good intentions, they barely scratch the surface of this all-encompassing problem. As Prest says:
“In many ways, the transportation sector has led the charge on dealing with workplace fatigue. It’s time for the rest of us to follow its lead and admit that everyone is at a greater risk of injury when they’re tired—and that safety managers have a powerful role to play in reducing the number of fatigue-related driving fatalities (not to mention the uptick in other incidents when workers are tired).”
If a safety professional can help employees reduce or manage their fatigue, they ensure worker safety not only at work but also off-the-clock. Doing so can save the company money and, most importantly, it will save lives.
Learn more, and discover a few ways to begin approaching the problem, in the article “Trucking Tired Workers to Safety”.