While how to manage fatigue is not specifically legislated, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 we are all responsible for workplace health and safety, and that includes fatigue.
This chapter is primarily based on guidance issued by:
The chapter also draws from The Blue Book: The Code of Practice for the Engagement of Crew in the New Zealand Screen Production Industry.
Definitions specifically related to fatigue.
Day off is an unpaid scheduled period, usually at the end of the working week intended for rest. Specified timings for short and long term engagements are outlined in the Blue Book.
Fatigue is the state of feeling very tired, weary or sleepy resulting from insufficient sleep, prolonged mental or physical work, or extended periods of stress or anxiety.
Jet lag is the rapid movement (faster than one time zone per day) across more than three time zones
Rest an uninterrupted period during which work should not be undertaken – in a production it is ideally a 10-hour stand-down.
Scheduled day means the set period of time in which a worker is scheduled to carry out their duties.
All workers involved in a production have health and safety duties regarding fatigue and should read and understand the section on ‘minimum responsibilities for everybody’. Roles that have direct influence over other workers should also read the ‘planning and guidance considerations’ section; this includes production company representatives, producers, directors, production managers, heads of departments, assistant directors, health and safety officers and location managers.
What is fatigue?
Fatigue is a state of physical and/or mental exhaustion that may impair an individual’s strength, speed, reaction time, coordination, decision making capability or balance, diminishing their ability to perform work safely and effectively. Fatigue reduces alertness, which can lead to errors and an increase in workplace incidents and injuries.
Research has shown that people who have gone without sleep for an extended period of time are just as impaired as people who are over the legal alcohol limit.
Fatigue can be described as either:
Types of fatigue
Circadian rhythm disruption occurs when a worker’s normal, 24-hour, rhythmic biological cycle is disrupted from its current setting due to either:
Cumulative fatigue or sleep deprivation is when a worker’s mental capability is weakened due to disturbed or shortened major sleep periods. Several major uninterrupted sleep periods will be needed to reduce or eliminate the sleep debt.
Emotional fatigue can result from excessive job and/or personal demands and stress.
Mental fatigue can be caused by continual mental effort and attention on a particular task, as well as high levels of stress or emotion. Mental fatigue can be related to cumulative fatigue or sleep deprivation.
Physical fatigue is when an individual’s physical capability is weakened due to overexertion – both prolonged physical activity and brief but relatively extreme physical activity can tax a worker’s physical endurance or strength beyond their normal limits. Physical fatigue can either be due to dynamic work, where muscles are continually moving, or static work, where muscles are held tens.
Find out more about common types of fatigue in Appendix 1.
What causes fatigue?
Just as there are different types of fatigue, there are many different reasons why fatigue may occur; it is important we are all aware of what can cause fatigue so we can help prevent it from occurring.
While the most common cause of fatigue is disturbance to sleep, with fatigue being higher among shift-workers, there any many reasons why fatigue may occur and we should consider all possible factors.
The below tables outline some factors that can contribute to fatigue within the screen sector
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How do we identify fatigue?
Some symptoms of fatigue can only be identified by the individual:
Other signs can also be identified by others:
These lists of symptoms are not exhaustive, and you should consult a professional if you have concerns about fatigue on the production set.
A check list for identifying fatigue, and causes, can be found in Appendix 2.
Everyone involved in a production should:
Everyone is responsible for ensuring their exposure to fatigue is minimised to prevent risks to health and safety, and should:
The use of stimulants, such as nicotine, caffeine, and some other drugs, can help maintain alertness in the short-term; however, they can cause individuals to “crash” as the effects wear off, and lead to poor quality sleep.
If cast and crew are constantly relying on stimulants to keep them alert, we need to consider what is causing the fatigue and what can be done to prevent, or reduce, it.
Coffee is not a solution to fatigue, it merely masks it.
Sleeping tablets can reduce fatigue, if used appropriately and for limited periods of time. However, each different type has advantages and disadvantages and generally they just mask the problem if the causes of sleep problems remain
This includes funders, production company representatives, directors, producers, production managers, line producers, heads of department, assistant director/s and health and safety officers. All of whom should follow the guidance provided in the below sections on ‘identifying the risk of fatigue’ and ‘managing the risk of fatigue’, as well as the section for their specific role.
Assessing the risk of fatigue
Everyone who is responsible for an activity or task in relation to a production should understand what causes fatigue and know how to identify fatigue. We are all responsible for taking reasonable care of our own health and safety and ensuring that our actions, or inactions, do not harm others – including understanding fatigue.
It’s important that we don’t solely rely on someone already showing signs of fatigue to identify the risk of fatigue occurring. We should all consider fatigue when:
The risk of fatigue can also be assessed by:
The risk of fatigue should always be considered across all roles on a production. In particular, fatigue needs to be constantly monitored in higher-risk areas of work, such as driving, operating heavy machinery or equipment, working at heights, working in extreme environments, working with hazardous substances or electrical work, or stunt work.
FATIGUE ON THE PRODUCTION SET
There are specific circumstances on a production that can contribute to fatigue. We should all know and understand what these are:
While we cannot predict the future, some of these causes of fatigue can either be avoided or managed through proactive and smart planning.
A key component of risk management is about identifying the potential for fatigue. If we are aware of a risk that could cause fatigue, and we do nothing to try to manage that risk then something goes wrong – we haven’t done our job to ensure the health and safety of all workers and others affected by our work.
While it is understood that production sets are not your typical 9-to-5 workplace, fatigue must still be managed. Everyone responsible for setting or organising an activity or task in relation to the production should always consider how they could prevent fatigue from occurring.
Below are some key factors that should be considered to help prevent fatigue from occurring.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL WORK DEMANDS
WORKPLACE FATIGUE POLICY
Consider developing a fatigue policy to sit alongside your health and safety policy.
The policy should include information about:
Make sure anyone can report fatigue-related issues, and ensure you investigate incidents where fatigue may be involved.
In pre-production, production companies (likely to have primary responsibility over health and safety on the production) should:
The production company should consider developing a fatigue policy to demonstrate commitment to fatigued management.
If it is not reasonably practicable to manage the risk of fatigue and reduce hours of work during the production, the production company should consider providing:
As producers and production managers have oversight across the production, they should:
If it not reasonably practicable to manage the risk of fatigue and reduce hours of work, the producer should consider providing:
Line producers also have oversight of the production process and should create a production schedule that provides adequate time for the work to be undertaken.
Directors and heads of department should:
The assistant director/s should:
The health and safety officer should:
The table describes several characteristics of types of fatigue common to the screen industry.
This checklist provides guidance to assist in identifying fatigue but is not an exhaustive list of risk factors. If the answer is yes to any of the questions, fatigue risks should be further assessed and control measures implemented, as required.
Prior Sleep and Wake Rules (PSWR) are based on the sleep requirements of the average adult, and can be used to calculate the likelihood of fatigue.
The PSWR are likely to underestimate the fatigue likelihood score (FLS) in older adults, teenagers and those workers who suffer from disrupted sleep. Therefore, it should be used with caution.
The following table uses PSWR to help determine a fatigue likelihood score.
Canadian Centre of Occupational Health and Safety. 2016. Fatigue.
Available at http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/psychosocial/fatigue.html [accessed 16 June 2016]
The Department of Labour. 2007. Managing shift work to minimise workplace fatigue: a guide for employers. Wellington.
The New Zealand Film & Video Technicians Guild and The Screen Production & Development Associations. 2004. The Blue Book: The Code of Practice for the Engagement of Crew in the New Zealand Screen Production Industry. New Zealand.
WorkSafe New Zealand. 2014. Fatigue in construction. [online]
Available at http://www.business.govt.nz/worksafe/information-guidance/all-guidance-items/ fatigue-in-construction-fact-sheet#_ftn1 [accessed 20 June 2016]16
WorkSmart. 2016. What is the definition of a rest break form work?
Available at https://worksmart.org.uk/work-rights/pay-and-contracts/hours-work/whatdefinition-rest-break-work [accessed 5 June 2016]
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