Helping the mining and extractives industry evaluate and manage workplace fatigue is an important part of the Mine Safety Industry Assistance Unit's and the NSW Mine Safety Advisory Council's (MSAC'S) work.
What is fatigue?
Fatigue can be defined as a state of impairment that can can include physical and/or mental elements, including lower alertness and reduced performance. It is typically associated with inadequate sleep, extended time awake or time of day.
Why is fatigue such an issue?
Fatigue become an issue in the NSW mining and extractives industry with the introduction of 24 hour operations and the issue was further exacerbated with the introduction of 12 hour shifts. With more focus on commuting accidents and fatalities, there is growing concern about the effect of fatigue on mine workers and on general road users.
What did the Digging Deeper project find?
Long working hours and fatigue were highlighted in the 2004 Wran Mine Safety Review as crucial issues facing the industry. MSAC's response was the Digging Deeper Action Plan that set out ways to manage and address the issue.
MSAC commissioned research to investigate the number of hours worked and the shift arrangements in the NSW mining and extractives industry and their effect on industry. The findings showed that the NSW mining industry had some of the longest work hours in the world. The far west of NSW, and in particular, contractors in this region, worked the longest hours in the industry. Managers, on average, worked longer than operators.
The Digging Deeper report recommended that MSAC develop and deliver education and assistance programs for the industry. They have developed a range of programs jointly with the Mine Safety Industry Assistance Unit.