Study aims to help truckies fight fatigue

fatigue study

Melbourne-based company Opposite, a group of consultants that take applied psychological findings to help workplaces improve, says it’s taking a fresh approach to mitigating the long-running issue of driver fatigue.

By asking what can be done to reduce fatigue and maximise alertness, Opposite’s Wide Awake project – funded by the NHVR’s Heavy Vehicle Safety Initiative – aims to discover a “new and different way” of addressing workplace factors and systems that impact driver fatigue, with a focus on increasing alertness, not just managing fatigue.

Just what the end result will look like remains to be seen, said project manager Ashleigh Fleming.

Opposite is still in the ‘developing solutions’ phase of the project which includes ride-alongs with truckies from Altona-based project partner SCT Logistics, which runs both road and rail, to gather a first-hand insight into the factors that impact emotional and mental fatigue.

“That often gets overlooked,” said Fleming. “Previous research in this space has been around job demands, for example workplace complexity, lengthy wait times, the use of too many systems and administration, role ambiguity, uncertainty.

“The sort of things that can cause stress and frustration in the job and reduce truck driver engagement can actually take a toll on drivers, we suspect.”

To help gather that information, Wide Awake also has developed an online survey for truckies which takes just 5-15 minutes to complete. Click here to take part.

All participants also go into the draw to win one of five Fitbit watches (valued at $150), the same wearable tech used by the SCT drivers helping with the study.

All survey data will be deidentified and anonymous, said Fleming, who stressed that truckie engagement is critical to the success of the project.

Fleming said Wide Awake aims to take a “systemic approach” to fatigue, not just looking at the physical aspects, or how to prevent it when it gets to the “final stages”, but actually looking at how you address it earlier on.

“And actually support the opposite of fatigue, which is wakefulness, so actually being awake and maintaining that level of wakefulness and engagement in work and kind of flipping it on its head, if you like.

“That’s kind of our approach, look at things from a different perspective and bring some innovation and different thinking to it.”

Wide Awake plans to have some tangible solutions in place – an industry toolkit is one option being considered – within the next couple of months, before delivering those to industry in July and August. The final evaluation phase of the project is scheduled for September and October.

“We’re looking at developing potentially a kind of engagement roadmap or framework, if you like, that can help support industry with implementation, because that’s critical to getting anywhere, getting any solution or getting anything implemented,” said Fleming.

“It may be that there is a simplification solution that comes from this, which is around making drivers’ lives a bit easier.

“For example, we do a bit of work around process improvement. So, where there’s lengthy processes that are taking their toll, how can we make those simpler and easier for all parties involved?”

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