Without this, your fatigue risk management system will fail.

You have the perfectly designed system to manage fatigue. There are clear procedures for reporting risks, feedback loops, prescriptions for fatigue prevention and countermeasure use, a duty schedule based on fatigue science, sub-systems for identifying and managing on-duty fatigue, an incident investigation process and a continuous improvement philosophy all nicely detailed in your Fatigue Risk Management System (FRMS) binder. But it’s all going to fail unless you have a solid lynch pin. The way you keep it together is with training. Providing your team with information about fatigue (the subject) and your FRMS (the system) links the people to the FRMS. It’s like welcoming a brand new aircraft to your fleet. If people don’t know how to fly (the subject) or they don’t understand the aircraft (the system), they are going to crash that asset.

I push training as a critical component to the management of fatigue with good reason. Research has shown that formal training in fatigue risk management can positively improve knowledge and change behaviour[1].  This means that your workforce will understand why they need to manage fatigue and they will be more likely to use your system the way it was designed. Without training, you will find that people mis-manage their sleep and off-duty time and then end up at work fatigued or they won’t be team players and use the FRMS. You can provide the best duty schedule and safety systems, but without training, your workforce won’t know how to make sure they are fit and well rested for duty and they won’t know how to use the system to make sure they don’t work when they are too fatigued.

Everyone in your organization should go through an initial training program that teaches them about sleep and it’s relationship to fatigue and orients them to the FRMS. Refresher training should occur every two years and you should have a constant and ever changing awareness campaign to keep the focus on fatigue in between training sessions.  Never let your awareness campaigns get stale; people habituate to and ignore information that does not change.  Posters, tips, newsletters etc. should be refreshed at least once a month.

My list is of initial training topics is always evolving, but here is what I am currently recommending. Start with a session on sleep and fatigue, let people absorb it, think about it and put the strategies into practice, then provide a session on your FRMS. The interval between these sessions should be two weeks to one month.

The sleep and fatigue session should cover:

  • What is fatigue?
  • Why manage fatigue?
  • How are sleep and fatigue related?
  • Recognizing fatigue in yourself and others
  • The 6 Human Fatigue Risk Factors of acute sleep disruptions, chronic sleep debt, continuous wakefulness, circadian rhythm effects, medical & psychological conditions/illnesses & drugs, and sleep disorders
  • Fatigue prevention strategies like sleep hygiene, diet, exercise, stress management
  • Fatigue countermeasures to combat on-duty fatigue
  • The 24/7 lifestyle
  • Impact of fatigue on relationships, health and life satisfaction
  • Benefits of sleep and rest

The FRMS session should cover:

  • Your organization’s fatigue management philosophy
  • How your system was developed
  • The individual components of the FRMS
  • The flow of information and internal processes
  • Roles and responsibilities of everyone in the organization
  • Feeding the system with information formally and informally
  • How the FRMS is designed to continuously improve
  • The FRMS audit process
  • Incident investigations/assessments
  • Personal benefits from FRMS


[1] Dinges, D., Maislin, G., Brewster, R., Krueger, G., & Carroll, R. (2005). Pilot testing of fatigue management technologies. Journal of the Transportation Research Board, 1922, 175-182.