May 20, 2009 | Mark Paradies

Root Cause Analysis Tip: How To Evaluate Fatigue

The first of the “15 Questions” on the TapRooT® Root Cause Tree® asks:

“Was a person excessively fatigued, impared,
upset, bored, distracted, or overwhelmed?”

Even though the questions in the Root Cause Tree® Dictionary help answer the question, assessing fatigue has always been difficult.

Now there is help.

About three years ago, I had a meeting with the management team at Circadian Technologies and helped convince them that they could take some complex, proprietary models that they used to assess fatigue and simplify them for use by company accident investigators.

They agreed to give it a try. After several years of R&D and testing, they now have a tool that usable and FREE.

Here’s the link to the tool:

What can it help you do? How about answering the following questions:

  • What is the probability that an individual was fatigued at the time of an incident/accident or operational deviation?
  • Was his/her fatigue the proximate cause of the incident/accident/operational deviation?
  • What was the source of excess fatigue risk (if any)?
  • At what level of the Fatigue Risk Management System did the fatigue risk originate?
  • What percent of my company’s incidents/accidents/operational deviations are caused by a fatigue impaired employee?
  • What is the cost of employee fatigue impairment at my company?

Answering these types of questions should be a high priority for any company with 24 hour operations, but especially for:

  • Hospitals
  • The transportation industry (aviation, maritime, trucking, mass-transit, rail, and bus)
  • Refineries
  • Nuclear plants
  • Oil platforms
  • Mines
  • Military operations
  • Pharmaceutical manufactureres
  • DOE sites

Really, any commercial or government facility with significant risk if a person makes an unexplained mistake.

But there’s more good news.

200905151713.jpg Bill Sirois, COO of Circadian Technologies, will be at the Summit to explain how to use FACTS and to help explain the effect of fatige on human performance.

To sign up for the Summit and Bill’s important sessions, see the Summit web site:

Here’s one more thing to think about. “Unexplained” human error costs industries billions of dollars a year. Many of these costs may be attributed to fatigued employees. Because employers don’t have a way to judge if employees are making mistakes because they are fatigued, they don’t take effective corrective actions to solve this problem.

By attending the Summit and learning about this new, free tool, you could potentially save your site millions of dollars when you can accurately identify fatigue as a cause of human error.

Thus, if you think you might have fatigued employees (and anyone in the industries I’ve listed above SHOULD be thinking of this possibility), you should get signed up for the Summit now and make sure that you attend Bill’s session (Wednesday in the third breakout from 2:40-3:55 and Thursday in the sixth breakout from 2-2:20).

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