Building a Targeted Fatigue Risk Management System

What are the key HOF issues?

This case study describes the application of fatigue risk management (FRM) within a rail transport organization in Melbourne, Australia.

What did you do?

Metro Trains Melbourne (Metro) operates and maintains Melbourne’s metropolitan rail network, with 6,700 employees working in a variety of different roles and work environments. Metro’s Risk and Human Factors team had an objective to improve how Metro manages fatigue, moving away from a generic “one-size fits all” approach that tended to focus on ‘hours worked’ towards tackling fatigue risk at a system level. The project aimed to make Metro’s fatigue risk management (FRM) system simpler, risk-based and more practical for implementation by the teams across our business.

There were two key parts to the review:

  1. An update to Metro’s FRM system, simplifying requirements and providing practical and useful guidance to help ensure its implementation.
  2. Targeted fatigue risk reviews across the business based on each group’s individual fatigue risk profile, informing fatigue management plans that are tailored to each work context.

The FRM document update saw a revision to Metro’s FRM Standard, a new Work Instruction focused on risk profiling and risk assessment, and an update to guidance material with a focus on practical, useful tools to support application and empower managers to take ownership of the process within their area of business responsibility.

The fatigue risk reviews were undertaken via a series of workshops with representatives from all levels within each business group participating. A fatigue risk profile was established for each work group, built using a standardized template assessing against a set of factors known to contribute to fatigue – elements such as workload, staffing, job and task design, the work environment, the scheduling of and control over work hours and breaks, and the presence of any engineering controls that might prevent or mitigate fatigue-related error. Reference was made to available supporting data, including shift and on-call rosters, incident data, investigation and audit findings and training materials.  The risks captured through the profiling exercise were then assessed to identify likelihood and consequence ratings, the presence and effectiveness of any existing risk controls, and any new controls that might be required to address any noted gaps.

What were the results?

Simplifying the FRM system means it is easier to implement, the requirements are more clearly understood, and teams were empowered to more actively meet their responsibilities for assessing and managing fatigue risk. By building their own fatigue risk profile, each division can now meaningfully improve their processes to reduce the risk of an incident.  Division managers are now working towards having effective fatigue management systems in place tailored to the type of work their team does, and scaled to the likelihood and consequence of fatigue-related error.

This industry award-winning initiative has shifted Metro from a one-size-fits-all approach to fatigue management to a tailored, system-level approach that puts the management of fatigue risk at its core.

Author: Fiona Kenvyn, Manager HF Integration & Change, Metro Trains Melbourne