Measuring fatigue-related impairment in the workplace

Ronald I. Powell, Alexander G. Copping

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (SciVal)
363 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: This research was founded on the premise that more can be done to help improve safety in the global construction industry. Worker fatigue-impairment may be an underlying cause or major contributor to accidents. Fatigue-impairment is believed to be pervasive in construction, and research has shown it can be as concerning as alcohol-impairment. When fatigue-impairment is acknowledged as existing, there is poor understanding of its severity or how it contributes to performance and accidents. The purpose of this research was to attempt to measure fatigue-impairment in real time. Design/methodology/approach: This research expanded on actual measurements of fatigue-related impairment from workers on a large construction project displaying significant fatigue-related impairment. The research identified and tested possible techniques for real-time measurement solutions to assist with this safety-related issue. 100 participants had their sleep/wake cycles monitored for a month with an actigraph to derive their on-going mental effectiveness levels by the minute. The same participants took cognitive tests over the month to compare mental performance results to the modelled mental effectiveness levels. Findings: Performance results from cognitive tests were compared with modelled mental effectiveness from actigraph-monitored sleep of 100 participants for a month each and showed significant correlation for all cognitive tests used. Practical implications: This research showed that real-time surrogate measurements for fatigue-impairment in the workplace exist to assist organizations manage an important workplace hazard. Originality/value: Derived from operational settings, this research developed predictive models based on simple, quick and inexpensive cognitive tests as screening techniques for workplace impairment and confirmed the need for and found a solution for fatigue monitoring in the workplace.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-525
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Engineering, Design and Technology
Issue number3
Early online date4 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2016


  • Accidents
  • Cognitive tests
  • Fatigue
  • Impairment
  • Safety
  • Sleep


Dive into the research topics of 'Measuring fatigue-related impairment in the workplace'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this