The Friday Blog – How Skanska UK are managing their fatigue risk

Fatigue is a workplace hazard but it is often overlooked because of lack of knowledge, because it is considered too big a subject to tackle or perhaps, don’t have the resource and expertise to start. Fatigue affects our ability to think clearly and respond appropriately increasing the risk of accidents and injuries and has a reach and implications which impact many aspects of a business.

There is a growing body of evidence across many high risk industries like aviation and rail that demonstrate the link between the working patterns/hours, work environment and individual factors and fatigue. This evidence has indicated that 1:5 road collisions and 3000 deaths a year are due to sleepiness at the wheel; additionally, lack of sleep is implicated in about 7.2% of all workplace accidents. People who sleep for less than 6 hours/night are generally about 3% less productive, that’s about 6 days pa. However, there is little evidence with regard to the construction industry which if we had this insight, would do much to better understand the imperative and where we need to focus.

Skanska UK started to build their FRMS back in 2017 and this article shares the journey and the approach used across their diverse operating units (OU’s).

Skanska UK’s approach to developing their fatigue risk management system (FRMS)

One area that vexes organisations is often finding or extrapolating data from their systems to help them not only offer the insight but also provide the baseline data to demonstrate progress, success and impact of any intervention. Skanska was no different, we had plenty of data but not the right data to help us know our baseline and much of this data was held at project level and not corporately. Which meant that we didn’t have a ‘big picture’ view how fatigue might have been impacting our people and business. We recognised that we can’t mitigate our risk, if we don’t know.

So we looked at different ways that might help us understand the current position as well as serve as an opportunity to engage and educate.

Figure 1

  • We formed a working group that had representation from each OU and enabling function. This was a key step as set-out in Table 1 and allowed consultation.
  • A small trial of Readiband technology was deployed in high risk projects, c. 25 people participated, of which most had 7 hours or less sleep/night over a 30 night period leading to fatigue impairment, indicated by scores of less than 80 are a risk to the individual, others and the business (Figure 1).
  • An online sleep survey (based on the Karolinska Sleep Survey) was deployed in our health & safety week) in 2017, in which 20% of our headcount participated. The results showed us that just over 40% appeared to have some signs of sleepiness (Figure 2)

    Figure 2

  • Insights with regard to the quantity of sleep our employees manage each night, is taken from our Britain’s Healthiest Workplace survey findings. We found that 45% of respondents had less than 6 hours/night.
  • And lastly, we reviewed our overtime data (time and spend) as a surrogate for fatigue data . This helped us better understand the inconsistent approach we had to exceedance management and the potential increased risk.

Lack of sleep has a significant impact on the health and productivity of the working population and costs to the business.

So, where are we today?

It was recognised that introducing the Fatigue Risk Management system would raise questions and operational challenges not only with employees, but our supply chain and implications for future work. We have invested the past 6 months to socialising these changes to each OU senior leadership team. OU’s have a different demographic, work cohort and challenges; these meetings were opportunities to sense check the approach and address any questions or concerns.

Figure 3

Our Fatigue Risk policy was published in January 2016, which is now supported by a fatigue risk management procedure and 10 guidance notes which is integrated into our health and safety management system. The FRMS is based on a 9-step approach (Figure 3).

The guidance notes offer more detail and information in particular aspects of the procedure where applicable. For example, when and how to use the HSE Fatigue Risk Calculator .

Whereas, our FRMS checklist is an online tool that not only enables the projects/sites to undertake an initial gap assessment but provides a central repository where improvement plans can be stored. An additional functionality is that it provides a dynamic tool that gives a status across local (project/site) improvement plans but also centrally. This helps us to understand where we are as business and areas that we need to invest, such as a system to help manage working hours from a working time regulation perspective as well as fatigue.

A dedicated fatigue management intranet page has been developed with a resource toolkit for employees and managers, which is supported by fact sheets, videos, games and workshops.

Additionally, those with responsibility for as a Fatigue Risk co-ordinator or for developing rosters or managing exceedance, there is specific training delivered by the occupational health and hygiene team.

We have set out our 3 year plan to deploy and embed the FRMS in recent months and believe that it will make a difference to people’s health and wellbeing and business productivity.

Tricia O’Neill
UK Head of Occupational Health and Wellbeing
February, 2019