THE FATIGUE FACTOR
All of us here at Capstone Pinto Valley Mine have an opportunity to set an example for the rest of the mining industry and, possibly, any industry where accidents caused by fatigue result in property damage, injury or death. By using all the information available to us, we as Capstone employees can greatly reduce the fatigue factor. This is especially important while on the job and as we commute to and from work. These techniques and ideas can be passed on to our loved ones and friends. Hopefully, we can all avoid the heartbreak and sorrow that would result from a serious accident involving ourselves, family members or friends.
Some facts about fatigued driving: Driving tired is driving impaired. Driving or operating machinery while tired will reduce alertness, slow reaction times and decrease awareness of hazards. You are 3 times more likely to be involved in an accident!
Some signs you are fatigued: Blinking eyes. Yawning excessively. Heavy eye lids. Loosing focus. Tunnel vision. Loss of spatial awareness. Short term memory loss. Studies have shown that getting a minimum of 7 hours of sleep will help fatigue and getting 6 hours or less over a period of time will accumulate and result in what is called ‘sleep debt.’
Some causes of fatigue: Obviously lack of sleep, but how can we help ourselves get a minimum of 7 hours sleep? One of the most important things we can do for this problem is to educate our families and anyone else who might be affecting our ability to sleep. Have a family meeting and stress to your loved ones how critical it is that you get at least 7 hours of sleep! Barking dogs, loud neighbors and other noises in your area can also be a problem.
Stress: Try and remember that you can’t solve ANY issues that might be happening in your life while you are trying to sleep. If you find yourself tossing and turning because of issues in your life, try a diversion such as setting the TV timer for shut off and tune to a program that might be normally boring for you. Turn the volume down and concentrate on the voices.
Health: Sleep Apnea is a major contributor to sleep deprivation. Schedule a sleep study! You will be amazed after you discover what you do while sleeping. And how much a doctor’s recommendations can assist you in getting good rest. High blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and being overweight are health problems that contribute to sleep deprivation.
Some tips to fight fatigue while at work: Listen to music and sing along or just talk to yourself but don’t forget to listen to the mine radio as well. If possible, get some fresh air flowing into your cab. (This mainly helps in the winter.) Studies have shown that chewing gum, especially cinnamon or peppermint flavors help the mind stay active. Having snacks to munch on will work the same as gum but may have sugar which will be a short-term stimulant and result in a low later on. Avoid eating any heavy meals. Wet a paper towel with cold water and wipe it on your face, head and back of neck. Coffee and energy drinks are not recommended unless used very sparingly. Pull over and stop at the first sign of fatigue! Even resting your eyes for a quick 20 min nap can help you refresh. Use the fatigue delay available on your MineStar to let your supervisors know that you may be struggling.
Natural sleeping aids: Darken your windows. (Even at night this might help.) Ear plugs. Eye covering. (Eye mask, bandana.) Make sure you stop drinking liquids a few hours before bedtime to avoid many trips to the restroom unless your having herbal tea for sleep aid.
The most important thing to remember is DO NOT try to ’push through’ your fatigue! Your family, friends and coworkers are depending on you to make the right call.
The wrong decision may have deadly consequences!