Fatigue is a known contributor to accidents. The potential for fatigue-related accidents also exists in the oil and energy industry.
Fatigue risk management systems commonly involve review and adjustment of employee rosters and job functions to assist employees with getting rest based on their work demands. Although this approach is reasonable, it assumes that by giving the employee the ability to rest, that he/she will return refreshed. Certain medical conditions may inhibit an employee's ability to rest.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a medical condition where the patient has an airway obstruction which occurs when muscles in the upper airway relax while sleeping. This obstruction forces them to awaken, and if untreated, may lead to adverse medical conditions. For these patients, hours of work may not correlate as well with level of fatigue. Although there are many factors for OSA, the one most relevant for this abstract is Body Mass Index (BMI). In the adult population, OSA is estimated to be approximately 25% to 45% higher in obese subjects. The odds of having OSA increases as BMI rises and for individuals with a BMI of >35.
We will describe risk factors for OSA, treatment of the condition, as well as methods to reduce fatigue related risk. The discussion will include key components of a medical screening program as well as health and wellness programming that can be considered in parallel with any Fatigue Risk Management System.
Biometric data can be utilized to help predict the risk of fatigue related accidents in the workplace. By addressing the risks and providing solutions these incidents may decrease.
We will explore current OSA screening criteria, work hours limitations, and health and wellness programs as they relate to reducing risk. Most importantly, we will discuss a significant shortcoming with the identification of high risk individuals and an easy approach to help mitigate this risk.