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Personal and Work Factors That Predict Fatigue-Related Errors in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering

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BACKGROUND: The study aimed to identify factors associated with an increased likelihood of aircraft maintenance personnel reporting a fatigue-related error.

METHODS: There were 966 maintenance engineering personnel (mean age = 42 yr, 98% male) who completed a survey with items on personal factors, work factors and a question asking whether during the last month they had made an error in their work due to tiredness. Logistic regression analyses were used to determine factors independently associated with making an error at work due to tiredness.

RESULTS: Respondents obtained on average 7.0 h sleep and nearly half (45%) reported that they had felt close to falling asleep while driving home from work in the past 12 mo. Most respondents (70%) had received no education on strategies for coping with shift work. Among respondents, 22% agreed/strongly agreed with the statement “During the last month, I have made an error in my work due to tiredness.” Unexpected roster changes independently predicted the likelihood of reporting an error in work due to tiredness and for certain groups of aircraft maintenance personnel, < 6.5 h sleep increased the odds of an error in work due to tiredness fivefold, whereas > 7.5 h sleep almost halved the odds of reporting such an error.

DISCUSSION: These findings indicate the importance of stable and predictable work patterns to minimize the risk of fatigue-related errors in this safety critical environment, and also the need for education on coping with shift work to ensure the workforce are best placed to manage their sleep away from work.

Signal TL, van den Berg MJ, Mulrine HM. Personal and work factors that predict fatigue-related errors in aircraft maintenance engineering. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2019; 90(10):860–866.
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Keywords: aviation; fatigue; fatigue risk; roster changes; sleep; stable work patterns

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

    To access volumes 74 through 85, please click here.
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