Fatigue and its contribution to railway incidents
Our review of investigation reports into high-risk rail incidents found that 21% of the reports identified fatigue as a factor. It also showed that managing working hours alone will not solve the problem. According to the investigation reports, the person's home life contributed to fatigue in 40% of the incidents. This means that staff and companies both have a role in managing fatigue.
As an industry, it is important we continue to investigate incidents and record and share data to identify where fatigue has been a contributing factor. This data has a crucial role to play in informing Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS) that aim to minimise fatigue experienced by staff. However, determining the role of fatigue in incidents remains a challenge since there is no clear-cut answer or objective measure. By talking to staff involved, understanding their roster patterns and other fatigue inducing factors, investigators make judgements about the role of fatigue in incidents.
Our fatigue guidance for investigators can help investigators to have confidence in making these judgements. The rail industry must also create and maintain a culture where staff are able to describe fatigue-related factors during investigations, safe in the knowledge that they will be treated fairly, and our guidance on creating and maintaining a fair culture is designed to help with this challenge.