August 25, 2022

NIOSH to Assess Fatigue in Oil and Gas Extraction

A new project proposed by NIOSH would focus on fatigue and fatigue management in the onshore oil and gas extraction industry, a sector in which the agency says there has been no significant research. A Federal Register notice explains that the project is intended to evaluate sleep and fatigue among oil and gas extraction workers and examine these and other factors’ relationship to risks in the industry. Researchers plan to collect data using several approaches. Examples include taking direct measurements of sleep and alertness among workers; using questionnaires to gather information related to demographics, working hours, commute times, and sleep quality; and interviewing workers, supervisors, subject matter experts, and others regarding the challenges related to fatigue management in this industry.

According to NIOSH, worker fatigue is commonly associated with nonstandard schedules—such as night shifts and extended hours—as well as stress, physically and mentally demanding tasks, and working in hot environments. Fatigue can result in slower reaction times, affect cognition and sleep, and contribute to numerous negative health effects, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and psychological disorders. Investigations have found that worker fatigue has been a contributing factor to high-profile disasters, including the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown and Exxon Valdez oil tanker accidents.

NIOSH is accepting comments related to its proposed project until Oct. 3. Further details can be found in the Federal Register.

Related: “Wake-Up Call: Toward an Industrial Hygiene Approach to Work-Related Fatigue,” an article published in the December 2021 issue of The Synergist, discusses the tools available to tailor the anticipation, recognition, evaluation, and control of fatigue among different organizations.