New Technology Might Help Solve Offshore Fatigue Safety Issues

Arnold & Itkin

We all get tired at work. However, many workers are fortunate that their at-work fatigue doesn’t place the lives of their coworkers at risk. Thanks to grueling work and long shifts, many offshore workers understand how easy it is for them and their coworkers to get tired while on the job. They also know how dangerous their job can be if they aren’t alert and focused on it.

Texas A&M Today reported that sleepy offshore workers are 70 percent more likely to be involved in an accident than their well-rested counterparts. The university’s paper points out that the BP Texas City disaster of 2005 was partially contributed to fatigue. Some operators had been working 12-hour shifts for as many as 29 consecutive days before the accident that killed 15 workers and injured 180 others.

Texas A&M University Researchers Are Trying to Save Lives with Technology

Now, a group of researchers at Texas A&M University are turning to the use of wearable technology to help oil and gas workers. This wearable tech will feed information to an interactive dashboard and help supervisors determine how to schedule workers while avoiding fatigue.

The new technology uses complex methods to determine a difficult question that might seem simple: how well did a worker sleep?. Doing so will help workers determine if they are actually rested and ready for work instead of assuming their time in bed was adequate.

“Offshore workers are often left to self-manage their fatigue – there is a critical need to integrate fatigue monitoring, reporting, and management practices into an organization’s existing safety culture strategies, such that stakeholders at all levels are empowered to make safer work choices,” said associate professor Ranjana Mehta from A&M’s department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

One of the most interesting aspects of this technology is its remote monitoring functionality. If employers are able to remotely monitor the fatigue of workers, they’ll be able to better manage the overall safety of their operations and reduce offshore accidents.

“The funding from this grant will not only help develop reliable fatigue assessment tools that can be utilized in any industry but address a key question on whether fatigue and safety culture are interlinked,” Mehta said. “The funding guarantees that this research effort continues and enables a dual focus on fatigue and safety culture in this industry.”

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