Surprising Fatigue Headlines

By Clinton Marquardt - Sleep & Fatigue Specialist

December 29, 2013

fatigue, fatigue and accidents

Words like “Overnight”, “Falls Asleep”, and “Nodding Off” always catch my eye, especially when they are in the news.  It shows that interest in sleep, fatigue and health is growing and that people are concerned with getting enough sleep.

Here are a few headlines that recently caught my eye:

Senator Dallaire falls asleep, crashes car

One of Canada’s top military brass crashed into a traffic barrier on Parliament Hill after he “ran out of steam”.

Intern’s death after overnight shift sparks outcry

22 year-old Andy Ferguson crashed while driving home after working a morning shift followed by a night shift as part of his Radio and TV studies at North Alberta Institute of Technology.

Train engineer ‘was nodding off and caught himself too late,’ union rep says

A train engineer goes into “a daze” before an accident that killed 4 and injured 67.

If you read the articles that I have linked above, you’ll see that reporters can persuade you to think that fatigue played a role in these accidents.  But from an investigation standpoint, they haven’t come close.

There are two steps to investigating human fatigue. The first step is to understand if the people involved could have been fatigued. The second step is to determine if fatigue influenced the outcome.

It’s like this…we all know (hopefully by now) that playing with our phones while driving is a “no no”. It distracts you and in a split second can cause you to lose focus on driving and crash. But dialling a number or texting a friend does not always lead to an accident. That’s why people keep doing it.  So, just because you are playing with your phone, it does not mean it will cause an accident.  It’s the same thing with human fatigue, just because the person is fatigued, it does not guarantee an accident.  You have to show that the person was likely fatigued and that their actions were consistent with those of a fatigued person.

If you would like to learn the simple 2-step method for investigating human fatigue, consider attending an upcoming training session.

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