Fatigue proofing: The role of protective behaviours in mediating fatigue-related risk in a defence aviation environment.Accid Anal Prev. 2017 Feb; 99(Pt B):465-468.AA
In the military or emergency services, operational requirements and/or community expectations often preclude formal prescriptive working time arrangements as a practical means of reducing fatigue-related risk. In these environments, workers sometimes employ adaptive or protective behaviours informally to reduce the risk (i.e. likelihood or consequence) associated with a fatigue-related error. These informal behaviours enable employees to reduce risk while continuing to work while fatigued. In this study, we documented the use of informal protective behaviours in a group of defence aviation personnel including flight crews. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to determine whether and which protective behaviours were used to mitigate fatigue-related error. The 18 participants were from aviation-specific trades and included aircrew (pilots and air-crewman) and aviation maintenance personnel (aeronautical engineers and maintenance personnel). Participants identified 147 ways in which they and/or others act to reduce the likelihood or consequence of a fatigue-related error. These formed seven categories of fatigue-reduction strategies. The two most novel categories are discussed in this paper: task-related and behaviour-based strategies. Broadly speaking, these results indicate that fatigued military flight and maintenance crews use protective 'fatigue-proofing' behaviours to reduce the likelihood and/or consequence of fatigue-related error and were aware of the potential benefits. It is also important to note that these behaviours are not typically part of the formal safety management system. Rather, they have evolved spontaneously as part of the culture around protecting team performance under adverse operating conditions. When compared with previous similar studies, aviation personnel were more readily able to understand the idea of fatigue proofing than those from a fire-fighting background. These differences were thought to reflect different cultural attitudes toward error and formal training using principles of Crew Resource Management and Threat and Error Management.