May 14, 2007 | Ken Reed

FACTS: Fatigue Accident Causation Testing System

Below is a note I received from Summit Speaker, Bill Sirois. (Bill Sirois is Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Circadian Technologies, Inc. (CTI). You may contact him through his website: www.circadian.com.) ~ Barbara

While we all know intuitively that fatigue is frequently a root cause of today’s accidents and injuries, it is still being grossly under-reported as a causative factor. This is because we are not collecting the necessary data to identify fatigue as the real culprit. Plus, it is much easier to blame “behavior” as the cause of human error. For example, the truck driver who recently crashed into the Bay City Bridge in Oakland at 4:30am was cited for speeding, rather than the more likely scenario that he simply nodded-off during the low point on the human biological scale. Moreover, his entire life’s history is being scrutinized to find just cause that he was simply a “bad apple” to begin with. Yet, the fact remains that there is a 15 times greater likelihood of an accident between 3am and 6am than at any other time of day (DOT, 1995). It has to do with our human design specifications (i.e. circadian rhythms), and most of us have known that for a long time. Just how to prove it in an industrial or transportation accident is another matter. That’s where FACTS comes in.

FACTS is a simple data collection system that is designed to “bolt-on” to whatever operating system/incident reporting mechanism you currently have in place, and help you to harvest the most relevant data indicators of fatigue. With simple multiple choice inputs and a drop down menu format for ease of use, FACTS will scientifically, and accurately, calculate the probability that fatigue or sleepiness was the cause of an accident.

As presented at the Summit, the FACTS System turned in an 80% correlation with NTSB findings in 10 major trucking accidents used as a test standard. With the several hundred known accidents that will be analyzed with FACTS over the next 6 months, we expect to reach a 90% probability factor.

We greatly appreciate your interest on the FACTS System, and will keep you posted on our progress. For now, until a company can accurately segment fatigue-related human error from behavior-related human error, it will be unable to justify the effort and resources needed to address an issue that researchers suggest is the cause of 30-40% of all of today’s accidents, incidents, and injuries.

In the meantime, please let me know if you have any questions on the FACTS System, or if you have any incidents that you would like to have analyzed for fatigue as part of the research and development effort.

[Please click the icon below to view Bill’s Summit presentation.]

Fatigue

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