Stay Alert: Incorporate Fatigue into Risk Management

The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)

February 6, 2020

Dr. Chason Coelho, CSP, CFI, managing scientist at Exponent, Dr. Sunil Lakhiani, P.E., CSP, managing engineer at Exponent, and Dr. Delmar "Trey" Morrison, III, P.E., CPSP, CFEI, principal engineer at Exponent, recently published an article for the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Their publication, "Stay Alert: Incorporate Fatigue into Risk Management," focuses on human fatigue in relation to safety and risk management.


Human fatigue is a peculiar issue in safety and risk management. On one hand, imagining fatigue as a factor that can contribute to adverse safety events seems rational and intuitive. This suggestion is supported by research indicating that approximately 13% of workplace injuries can be at least partially attributed to fatigue.  On the other hand, managing fatigue risks in practice can be quite challenging. Specific difficulties include realistic assessment of fatigue, prioritization of fatigue hazards, and development of risk-assessable scenarios that link fatigue hazards to adverse events. This paper reviews these and other challenges to incorporating fatigue into the risk management process. After a brief review of some scientific principles of fatigue and their connections to specific operational concerns, the paper outlines a sensible approach and specific techniques that can be implemented. Special attention is paid to the fatigue risk assessment (FRA). A FRA mirrors more common risk assessments, such as HAZOPs and HAZIDs, and FRA processes and other techniques discussed here provide opportunities to systematically and proactively address a known contributor to human performance gaps — human fatigue.

To read their full article, click here.