Australian researchers have developed a fatigue calculator to help workers assess if they are too tired to work. It helps individuals recognise the likelihood of them making a fatigue-related error on the job.
Professor Drew Dawson who developed the calculator says workers and their employers were interested in a way to better manage fatigue in the workplace.
"Employers in high risk industries such as mining, trucking and health care need a simple way to know if their staff are fit-for-duty and how to estimate the level of risk," says Prof Dawson who is heading the Centre for Sleep Research in the University of South Australia.
The Fatigue Calculator takes into account two factors when determining individual fatigue levels: How long a person is going to be awake; and how much sleep they have had in the previous two days. The answers to these simple questions are calculated to determine whether the individual is operating at a low, medium or high risk level.
"Use of the calculator has the potential to reduce the number of fatigue related incidents and accidents that occur in the workplace," Prof Dawson said.
"Staying awake for 17 hours has the same effect on performance as having a blood alcohol level of 0.05 per cent and after 21 hours awake you demonstrate the same deterioration as having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.1 per cent."
A number of mining companies are already using the calculator and have implemented it as part of their fatigue management programs. It is suitable for anyone who needs to determine whether or not they are fit for work such as shift workers or people heading off on a long drive over the Christmas season.