Download Guidance for Managing Worker Fatigue During Disaster Operations PDF

TitleGuidance for Managing Worker Fatigue During Disaster Operations
File Size670.7 KB
Total Pages96
Document Text Contents
Page 1


Volume I

Guidance for Managing Worker Fatigue

During Disaster Operations

Technical Assistance Document

April 30, 2009


Page 2

[This Page Intentionally Left Blank]

Page 48

Appendix A: Occupational Hazards, Psychological Impacts, and Other

A-2 April 2009

2004) These findings suggest that disaster workers, who frequently work longer shifts combined
with longer work weeks and night shifts, may be at a higher risk of injury and reduced

Shift Work

Shift work is a function of work scheduling that is often critical during the early phases of a
response and may be necessary during disaster operations. NIOSH defines shift work as
working outside the normal daylight hours, considered by NIOSH to be 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Shift
workers may work in the evening, during the middle of the night, overtime or extra-long
workdays, and they may rotate from one shift to another during response and throughout disaster
operations. Shift work schedules can be demanding and are likely to produce stress and fatigue
(Rosa, 1997).

Many studies have shown that night shift workers get the least amount of sleep. This sleep loss
affects a worker’s ability to perform safely and efficiently. “If a worker also has lost sleep,
fatigue could combine with the circadian low-point to double the effect on one’s ability to
perform. Studies of errors and accidents at different times of day show an increased risk at night
when the circadian rhythm is low and sleep has been lost.” (Rosa, 1997)

Additional references that include information on circadian rhythm, fatigue, and their relation to
extended work shifts and shift work are included in Appendix D, Table 2.

Occupational Safety and Health Hazards

Hazards are not well characterized at a disaster site. Dependent upon the type of disaster, a
variety of hazards may be present at the site. The following is a partial list of potential hazards:

Safety Hazards Health Hazards

• Falls from elevation
• Slips, trips, falls on the same level
• Electrocutions
• Striking/Being struck by vehicles, falling

objects, heavy equipment
• Fire/explosives
• Confined space hazards
• Moving vehicles
• Musculoskeletal injuries
• Contact with power tools
• Eye injuries
• Cuts and punctures from materials

• Drowning
• Trenching

• Atmospheric and dermal chemical hazards
• Carbon monoxide from generators/other

combustion sources
• Heat or cold stress
• Insect/animal bites
• Contact with contaminated water

• Contact with bloodborne pathogens
• Exposure to building materials, such as

silica, lead, fiberglass, and asbestos
• Exposure to fire, smoke, and toxic

• Excessive noise
• Radiation
• Chemical/biological weapons/hazards

Volume II

Page 49

Appendix A: Occupational Hazards, Psychological Impacts, and Other

A-3 April 2009

Physical Hazards

During all phases of disaster operations, physical hazards will be present. Many physical hazards
are similar to typical construction worksite safety hazards, but intensified. At every disaster site,
there will be an increased urgency as compared to normal workplaces, due to community and
other external pressures to complete work as quickly as possible.

Because disasters can occur in any season, particular attention should be paid to heat and cold
exposure. The use of personal protective equipment in hot climates will add to workers’ overall
body heat burden. Employers should ensure that an adequate supply of water is available and
encourage hydration. Employers should also implement a heat stress program in the workplace
with proper work/rest regiments to avoid heat-related illnesses, (Henshaw, Letter to C. Terhorst,
10/17/01; OSHA Quick Card on Heat Stress, 2005; OSHA Safety and Health Topics Webpage
on Heat Stress.)

Physical hazards can include falls, electrocutions, being struck by equipment, fires and
explosions, confined space hazards, musculoskeletal injuries, and lacerations, among others. As
described in the section on fatigue, some studies have found that changes in the length and
schedule of work shifts may be associated with increased injury rates. (Dong, 2005; Caruso et.
al., 2004; Dembe, 2006, 2005; Editorial, Scand J Work Environ Health, 2005.)

Prolonged Exposure to Chemicals and Other Agents

OSHA PELs are usually expressed as 8-hour time weighted averages (TWAs). Many PELs were
developed based on the assumption that employees will typically work for an 8-hour work shift
and will recover for 16 hours before being re-exposed. OSHA requires an adjustment of the PEL
for lead during extended work shifts in its construction and general industry standards. In both
standards, the PEL is reduced for extended shifts according to the following formula:

PEL (ug/m3) = 400/hours worked in the day.

OSHA has adopted two sampling approaches when quantifying worker exposures to other
hazards during extended work shifts. The first approach requires sampling what is believed to be
the worst continuous 8-hour work period of the entire work shift. The TWA calculated for this
period is used for comparison with the PEL. The second approach requires collecting multiple
samples over the entire extended work shift. Using this approach, multiple personal samples are
collected during the first 8-hour period, and additional samples are collected over the extended
work period. Exposure is calculated based upon the worst eight hours of exposure during the
entire extended work shift. (Fairfax, Memorandum on OSHA policy regarding PEL adjustments
for extended work shifts, 11/10/99.)

Other organizations identify the use of mathematical models for adjusting occupational exposure
limits. The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) refers to the
use of the Brief and Scala method to adjust Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) (ACGIH, 2008).

Volume II

Page 95

Appendix C: References

C-31 2009
Volume II

Author(s) Title Publication Findings/Recommendations


NIOSH involvement in work schedule
determination as an important factor
relating to negative health outcomes.
Makes recommendations for controlling
psychological risks factors at work,
including providing for sufficient
recovery from demanding tasks and/or
allowing for increased individual job

USDA Forest

Fatigue Awareness
Power Point Pres.

Missoula Technology and
Development Center

Educational presentation on factors
leading to fatigue, signs and symptoms
of fatigue, strategies for dealing with
fatigue. Recommends: 2:1 work/rest
ratio, 14 hr shifts, 14-day deployments,
and leadership monitoring and
management of worker fatigue.

OSHA Frequently Asked
Questions: Extended
Unusual Work Shifts

Short publication discussing what
extended work shifts and unusual shifts
are, what workers should know about
the hazards, and what can be done to
address the hazards.

DOT Fatigue Resource


The directory was originally compiled in
conjunction with the NASA/NTSB
Symposium Managing Fatigue in
Transportation: Promoting Safety and
Productivity which was held in Tysons
Corner, Virginia on November 1-2,
1995. The directory is now maintained
by the DOT. The purpose of the Fatigue
Resources Directory is to provide
transportation-industry members with
current, accessible information on

Page 96

Appendix C: References

C-32 April 2009
Volume II

Author(s) Title Publication Findings/Recommendations
resources available to address fatigue in
transportation. It includes section on:
Fatigue in Transportation,
Countermeasures, Government
Activities, Industry Activities, Public
Interest Groups, and Scientific

OSHA Safety and Health
Topics Page on Heat
Stress Index of weblinks to OSHA and other
organizations resources on Heat Stress.
Weblinks are grouped under: What
OSHA standards apply, What are the
hazards and possible solutions
associated with heat stress, and What
additional information is available.

Similer Documents