The Ultimate Guide to Fatigue Management in Construction: Enhancing Safety and Performance in High-Stress Environments

Discover essential insights on managing fatigue in the construction industry. Learn effective strategies to identify, measure, and mitigate fatigue-related risks, creating a safer and more productive work environment.

Site Diary

Fatigue Management For Beginners 

Welcome to our comprehensive Fatigue Management guide, your go-to resource for understanding the importance of Fatigue Management in the construction industry. Fatigue is described by the RSSB as a state of physical and mental weariness that emerges from ong period of work and sleep disruption. In the construction industry, where employees are needed to operate heavy machinery and work long shifts, it is of vital importance to be able to monitor and manage fatigue to help keep workforces safe. 

This guide is designed to equip you with a deep understanding of exactly what fatigue management is and how to implement an effective fatigue management strategy to safeguard your workforce in the construction industry.


Fatigue Management For Beginners 

Site reporting is a fundamental practice in the construction industry, where daily activities and events on a construction site are recorded and documented. These reports provide a clear and accurate record of the project's progress, offering valuable insights for all stakeholders involved.

Site reporting typically includes information such as completed works, key events, resource utilisation, weather conditions, safety protocols, and any issues or challenges encountered during the day. By maintaining detailed site reports, construction teams can track progress, manage costs, and address potential risks more effectively.

Balfour Beatty Case Study Image

What is a Site Diary?

At the heart of site reporting is the Site Diary, a crucial tool used to record daily activities and events on a construction project. A Site Diary serves as a contemporaneous record, capturing information at the time an event occurs. It provides a written account of what happened, who was present, and why certain decisions were made.

Traditionally, Site Diaries were handwritten on paper, but modern construction has shifted towards digital solutions for more efficient and effective reporting. Digital Site Diaries like Raildiary offer streamlined data capture, real-time insights, and easy access for all stakeholders, making the reporting process more accurate and user-friendly.

What is Fatigue Management in Construction?

Fatigue Management in construction involves strategies and practices aimed at preventing and mitigating the negative impacts of fatigue on workers' well-being, safety, and overall performance. Fatigue is a state of physical and mental exhaustion resulting from prolonged work, sleep disruption, and other factors.

In the construction industry, where demanding tasks and extended work hours are common, managing fatigue is crucial to maintain high levels of alertness, reduce the risk of accidents and errors, and ensure the health and safety of workers.Fatigued workers can exibit the following systems which can affect work performance and safety:
Impaired Decision-Making: Fatigued individuals may struggle with making sound decisions, evaluating risks, and solving problems effectively.Poor Concentration: Difficulty concentrating on tasks, maintaining attention, and staying engaged can be indicative of worker fatigue.

  • Reduced Alertness: Fatigue can lead to a decrease in alertness, causing workers to become easily distracted and have difficulty focusing on tasks.
  • Slower Reaction Times: Fatigue impairs reflexes and reaction times, which can be especially dangerous in industries requiring quick responses to changing conditions.
  • Impaired Decision-Making: Fatigued individuals may struggle with making sound decisions, evaluating risks, and solving problems effectively.
  • Poor Concentration: Difficulty concentrating on tasks, maintaining attention, and staying engaged can be indicative of worker fatigue.

What is a Fatigue Score and a Risk Score?

How fatigued a worker is considered to be is determined by their Risk Score and Fatigue Score. They are both quantitative assessments used to determine the level of worker fatigue and the level of associated risk they face as a result of this.

A fatigue score quantifies the degree of fatigue experienced by an individual worker based on various factors such as work hours, sleep patterns, and the physical and mental demands of the job. This score typically takes into account parameters like the duration and timing of work shifts, rest breaks, sleep quality, and the consistency of sleep routines. By analysing these elements, the fatigue score aims to provide an objective measurement of how fatigued a worker might be, considering both acute and cumulative fatigue over a given period. The score is typically presented on a numerical scale but can also be categorised into different levels of fatigue intensity, such as low, moderate, or high fatigue. 

A risk score aims to assess the potential risks associated with a worker's level of fatigue. This score factors in the likelihood of fatigue-related errors or accidents occurring due to the worker's current state of alertness and performance capabilities. The risk score considers the correlation between fatigue and decreased reaction times, impaired decision-making, memory lapses, and other cognitive and physical limitations that could impact safety and productivity. By calculating the risk score, employers and safety managers can identify situations where workers might be at a higher risk of making errors or encountering accidents due to fatigue-induced impairments and take actions to mitigate this. 

Fatigue and Risk scores were typically calculated by the HSE spreadsheet, however this has since been made unavailable leaving many construction companies unable to effectively monitor and manage fatigue. You can read more about why the fatigue spreadsheet was made unavailable here.
As we recognise the importance of safeguarding workers on site, at Raildiary we have developed our own Fatigue and Risk score calculator which is aligned to industry standards. It’s free to use and even gives a downloadable PDF of your scores with a detailed breakdown of the calculation, check it out here!

Fatigue Calculator

Why is Effective Fatigue Management Important in Construction?

Summary: An effective Fatigue Management system holds paramount importance in construction, given the physically demanding and often hazardous nature of the work. As fatigue can result in reduced attention, slower reactions and compromised decision-making memory lapses, all of which can contribute to accidents, injuries, and diminished productivity a proper Fatigue Management system is vitally important. Whilst fatigue can be monitored using methods such as paper and Microsoft Excel, an advanced Fatigue Management system which prioritises worker safety enables the proactive monitoring of worker fatigue in real-time.

This real-time monitoring and management capability empowers workers to perform at their best and ensures teams are protected at all times on site as there is no risk of manual error. Additionally, this means that when fatigue thresholds are crossed a Risk Assessment can automatically be triggered to ensure the proper action can be taken to keep workers safe and an auditable record can be kept of these measures. Discover more about how to implement a successful Fatigue Management process here.

What Industry Fatigue Standards Already Exist?

HSE Fatigue Standards for the whole construction Industry:

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides essential guidance for managing fatigue in various industries, emphasising the importance of ensuring the safety and well-being of workers. While the HSE once offered a Fatigue Risk Index (FRI) spreadsheet to aid in assessing fatigue-related risks, this resource is no longer available due to limitations in its software platform and potential misuse.

 Nevertheless, the HSE's guidance offers comprehensive insights into Fatigue Management, encompassing aspects such as risk assessment, policy development, shift schedule design, and work environment optimisation. This guidance highlights the significance of a proactive and systematic approach to combating fatigue-related hazards, underscoring the necessity for organisations to consider individual factors, industry requirements, and worker feedback when implementing effective Fatigue Management.Read more about the HSEs fatigue guidance here.

Fatigue Management in Rail - NR/L2/OHS/003:

In 2018, Network Rail announced updates to their Risk Management Standard (NR/L2/OHS/003) after an Office of Rail and Road review emphasised the importance of fatigue reduction in the workplace. To ensure that fatigue is eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level, the new regulations encourage both managers and site staff to consider fatigue at all times throughout a shift, taking into account total hours and site and commute times, to ensure the proactive management and mitigation of fatigue. To discover more about the NR/L2/OHS/003 standards, click here to read our blog.

The new standards suggest a three step process to try to foster this mentality surrounding fatigue:
  • Set trigger points for on site activities which put individuals at risk of fatigue. For example one trigger point under the new NR/L2/OHS/003 regulations is when an individual commute and working time totals or surpasses 12 hours a day
  • Once an employee has surpassed one of these triggers their line manager must organise a meeting to assess the risk of fatigue to the employee
  • A tailored Fatigue Management plan must be designed for the individual to assess how employers can reduce the risk of fatigue, this may include implementing strategies, such as staggering shifts
The Fatigue Management standards include all Network Rail and Contractor staff working on the railway so it is important to ensure your business complies with the revised standards if you are working on this infrastructure.
Want to test your knowledge of NR/L2/OHS/003? Take our fun fatigue quiz here!

Fatigue Management in Highways

The Highways Fatigue Standards provide comprehensive guidelines and procedures for managing fatigue-related risks within the highways industry. Recognising the profound impact of fatigue on performance and mental alertness, the standards emphasise that fatigue extends beyond mere tiredness and directly influences attentiveness and work-related errors. They key steps the standards outline are as follows:
  • Forecast Work Planning: All levels of the highways industry should plan work considering hazards, work demands, the environment, special hazards, and mitigation measures to control fatigue risk. Duty holders like Clients, Principal Contractors, and Contractors have specific responsibilities outlined in the standards to ensure Fatigue Management.
  • Control and Mitigation: The standards emphasise eliminating fatigue factors at the source. When elimination is not possible, mitigation measures should be adopted. Recommendations include safety-critical medical assessments, effective training, designing working hours for sufficient sleep and recovery, and developing protocols to manage excessive working hours.
  • Review: After implementation, control measures need continuous monitoring and review. Adjustments should be made when risks are not controlled, new tasks or procedures are introduced, or incidents involving fatigue occur.
  • Proactive Monitoring During the Shift: Continuous peer monitoring should be employed to detect and address fatigue risks in real-time. Workers unfit due to fatigue should be provided with safe arrangements to cease work, investigate the cause, and take necessary actions before resuming.

How to use your Fatigue Management System to...

How to use a Fatigue Management System to flag fatigue risk exceedances in advance 

By incorporating fatigue data into planned shifts, organisations can take additional steps to transform their planning process by leveraging data to proactively anticipate fatigue levels. Planning shifts in advance in a structured way can enable organisations to proactively monitor and manage fatigue levels. This is because advanced Fatigue Management systems can generate a comprehensive planning narrative by creating a roster that indicates forecast levels of high risk and fatigue, along with the estimated corresponding scores.

This can really revolutionise Fatigue Management practices, as it means that fatigue can be managed proactively, and workers will not be planned into shift working patterns which could impact their safety.

Fatigue exceedances in Shift Planner

 How to use a Fatigue Management System to record fatigue on site

For a Fatigue Management system to be able to safeguard workers, it is vital that fatigue data is collected as accurately as possible on the worksite. This involves capturing structured data surrounding working times and travel times within shift records on site so it is important to include compulsory fields for this information in your shift records. 

Additionally, by compiling structured shift data alongside real-time travel information, the  Fatigue Management system is better able to deliver a precise evaluation of worker fatigue levels. This is because detailed fatigue and risk scores for each worker can be generated in real-time which provides a proactive means to monitor and mitigate potential risks, making it an integral component of construction site safety protocol.

How to use a Fatigue Management System to visualise fatigue data 

An effective Fatigue Management system should offer a range of features designed to monitor and mitigate fatigue risks in the workplace, comprehensive reporting capabilities are a key component of this allowing for the easy visualisation of fatigue data. 

Data from shift records regarding travel time can be used to generate detailed reports and dashboards which provide insights into individuals who might be at risk of fatigue. These insights should cover various aspects of fatigue monitoring, including exceedance overviews that highlight critical metrics like excessive working hours and inadequate rest periods. This can be done by integrating shaft data into Power BI to create dashboards that enable you to effectively visualise fatigue data from your team. 

If you’re planning to use Power BI as a solution to visualise your fatigue data, here are a few ideas of how you could display key important metrics within the platform:

Historical Exceedances Analysis:

  • Graph showing trends of exceedances over time, allowing identification of recurring patterns.
  • Heatmap illustrating specific time periods with the highest frequency of exceedances.

Fatigue and Risk Scores Dashboard:

  • Line chart depicting individual users' Fatigue and Risk Scores over a selected time frame.
  • Bar chart highlighting users who consistently exceed fatigue thresholds.

Shift Patterns and Wellbeing Insights:

  • Stacked bar chart showcasing the distribution of shift durations across different groups.
  • Bubble chart correlating shift lengths with reported well-being scores.

Daily Fatigue Overview:

  • Line chart illustrating daily Fatigue and Risk Scores for all workers on the same graph.
  • Gauge chart showing overall fatigue level for a selected day.

Hours Worked and Travel Times Analysis:

  • Stacked area chart displaying cumulative hours worked by project, allowing comparison.
  • Dual-axis line chart contrasting travel times to and from the site against total hours worked.

Forecasted Hours and Workload Management:

  • Area chart projecting anticipated hours worked by each individual for the upcoming weeks.
  • Clustered bar chart demonstrating planned workload distribution across team members.

If you need to brush up on your Power BI skills, check out our guide on 7 essential Power BI tips and 4 essential Power Bi layout tips

How to use a Fatigue Management System to trigger Risk Assessments 

You can utilise your Fatigue Management system to initiate Risk Assessments by configuring threshold alerts when specific conditions have been exceeded, such as a fatigue score above 12. By identifying instances in which workers' Fatigue Scores or Risk levels surpass predetermined thresholds and automating this process, you ensure that the appropriate safety measures are never disregarded. The Risk Assessments prompt a comprehensive evaluation of the worker's suitability for the assigned task, taking into account the potential impact of fatigueIf required, the system can propose modifications to work assignments and schedules or even recommend temporary breaks to guarantee the worker's capability to perform safely.

This proactive approach diminishes the likelihood of fatigue-related incidents and ensures a greater level of attentiveness throughout the workforce, while also guaranteeing an auditable record of fatigue data is accessible.

Video Masterclass

 Fatigue Management shouldn’t have to be an admin burden! Follow along as our product specialist Mia walks you through how to use our Power BI dashboards to get key insights about fatigue in real time to help monitor and safeguard your workforce!

The problem with using WhatsApp, paper and Excel site records to manage fatigue

Employing communication platforms such as WhatsApp, relying on paper-based methods, or utilising Excel spreadsheets for Fatigue Management poses challenges due to their limitations concerning accuracy, efficiency, and data analysis. Additionally, due to the manual data entry times involved these approaches also lack the ability for real-time monitoring, potentially resulting in inaccuracies, misinterpretations, and inadequate data handling. Manual data entry is not only time-consuming but also makes fatigue data susceptible to errors which may result in accidents and compliance breaches within different industry sectors.

Additionally, as collecting data manually often results in data loss or lack of the correct information gathered, this can result in the inaccurate generation of fatigue data and also means that a fully auditable data trail of fatigue mitigation measures cannot always be produced. Therefore, embracing a dedicated reporting solution which incorporates a Fatigue Management system offers a more effective, streamlined, and dependable avenue for upholding worker safety and well-being within the construction industry.

How to digitise your site reporting and increase adoption?

As workplace safety and productivity take centre stage in the construction industry, embracing automation is a pivotal step in effective Fatigue Management. By integrating shift data into a Fatigue Risk Management System you can effortlessly automate the collation and analysis of crucial fatigue data which enables the real-time identification of at-risk workers. Additionally, by seamlessly integrating fatigue reporting into your workflow manual errors can be eliminated which ensures that accurate Fatigue and Risk Score are always generated. Additionally, by setting specific fatigue thresholds, automating the Fatigue Management process means that fatigued workers are automatically flagged and risk assessments can be proactively triggered when needed. This data-led approach not only ensures compliance with regulations like NR/L2/OHS/003 but also empowers you to anticipate and mitigate worker fatigue, safeguarding their well-being while enhancing overall project efficiency. 

At Raildiary we’ve invested all our time and effort into these critical success factors and every day we’re aiming to improve delivery in each of these areas to create the ultimate Site Diary.  We hope our relentless focus on prioritising user experience and our focus to deliver a best in class solution against these criteria make it a simple choice for our customers and users to adopt and love our platform.

Want to see how it works? Watch the short demo video below!

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