ACOEM Task Force Releases Guidance on Fatigue Risk Management

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Guidelines assist Occupational and Environmental Medicine Physicians in enhancing health, safety, and productivity through the development of a Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS).

“The demands of our 24 hour society can be mitigated once the proper steps have been taken to manage and limit fatigue," commented co-author Dr. Gerson.

The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine Presidential Task Force on Fatigue Risk Management released guidelines to aide physicians and other safety stakeholders in the creation of a Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS) in the workplace. Published in the February 2012 Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the information provides background, key concepts, and references to create, support and promote an FRMS.

Insufficient or poor quality sleep contributes to fatigue and can have several safety-related consequences, including slowed reaction time, reduced vigilance, reduced decision making ability, poor judgment, distraction during complex tasks, and loss of awareness in critical situations. “Fatigue is a managed condition in the workplace. Once organizations are able to identify, screen, diagnose, treat, and monitor effective management and treatment using the resources provided in the FRMS, employees will remain safer, more productive, and alert,” commented Dr. Benjamin Gerson, co-author and member of the ACOEM Task Force on Fatigue Risk Management as well as medical director of University Services, a multi-specialty medical services company. “My colleagues and I believe guidance provided in this publication is essential for the safety of workers in all industries including the transportation, health care, energy industries and in various shifts in order to maximize safety and productivity.”

The authors and members of the Task Force discussed fatigue and related sleep disorders over a one year period to determine the proper materials to incorporate into a Fatigue Risk Management System. The comprehensive document outlines the scientific background of fatigue in the workplace, how to build support for an FRMS within an organization, five key defenses to assist in the design of an FRMS, establishing continuous FRMS improvement, and lastly identifying, collecting, and analyzing metrics for FRMS.

The key defenses are balance between workload and staffing, shift scheduling, employee fatigue training and sleep disorder management, workplace environment design, and fatigue monitoring and alertness for duty. The first three of these impact sleep management, and the last two affect alertness management. Each level of defense against errors and fatigue provides an opportunity to identify the presence or absence of appropriate control mechanisms in the FRMS. “A comprehensive FRMS must take each of these defenses into consideration in order to effectively implement and monitor a successful program,” commented Dr. Gerson, “The demands of our 24 hour society can be mitigated once the proper steps have been taken to manage and limit fatigue.”

About University Services
University Services, a physician owned and operated Pennsylvania Corporation was organized in 1967 as a supplier of multi-specialty medical services. The company’s main activities are related to sleep medicine and toxicology services. The sleep medicine division provides sleep diagnostic and treatment services through American Academy of Sleep Medicine accredited sleep centers as well as convenient at-home sleep testing. The toxicology services division designs & implements substance abuse testing programs, provides Medical Review Officer Services, and reviews pain management drug screens.

If you’d like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Dr. Gerson, please call Crystal Bayawa at 800-624-3784 or e-mail Crystal at cbayawa(at)uservices(dot)com.


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Crystal Bayawa
University Services
(215) 637-6800 x102
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