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Wiltshire Police Federation

Target Fatigue

28 March 2023

Polfed News

Target Fatigue is a new initiative to help all our members recognise fatigue and reduce the associated risks that fatigue poses to them in the workplace.

This initiative will develop and grow over time as a go-to resource for all officers.

The Health and Safety Executive define fatigue as:

“…the physical and mental decline in performance ability, resulting from prolonged working hours, physical exertion and/or poor-quality sleep.”

Within the Target Fatigue pages are useful, printable assets that include a ‘do not disturb’ door sign for night shift workers, target fatigue posters that can be put up around locker rooms that have a QR code for quick access to the resources, and many links to instructional documents that can guide on subjects from health to the law.

Fatigue is a real issue for all our members, it’s a proven contributor to all manner of ailments, accidents and worse; yet despite this, it is rarely mitigated for and despite legislation requiring all health and safety matters be risk assessed, fatigue is overlooked by many.

We have launched our fatigue initiative to give members the tools and information to understand the dangers that fatigue poses and ultimately arm themselves with the skills and tools to address fatigue in the workplace, hold senior officers to account and ensure where possible each Service complies with Health and Safety legislation.

It is important not to underestimate the potential risk for serious, fatigue related errors and accidents.

To emphasis the dangers it is worth considering that fatigue and/or shift work was cited as a major contributory factor in any number of well-documented accidents and incidents, including, Bhopal in 1984, Challenger Space Shuttle in 1986, Chernobyl in 1986, Clapham Junction in 1988, Exxon Valdez in 1989, British Airways BAC1 in 1990, Michigan Train Wreck in 2001, BP Texas City in 2005 and Buncefield Oil Depot in 2005. Closer to home, fatigue is thought to be the cause of up to 20 per cent of accidents on major roads in the UK, contributing significantly to the approximate 3000 road deaths recorded annually.

Young men are the largest group at risk from accidents, closely followed by shift workers, especially night workers; night shift workers are considered to be most vulnerable to fatigue when driving home after a shift – we are aware of a number of tragic fatal accidents involving officers returning home after a night shift.  

Our Fatigue initiative aims to provide the education and resources to help address fatigue. The website will be a fluid area that will grow over time as expert contributors from different specialisms submit papers and advice.

Currently the Fatigue web pages address

Fatigue Awareness

Crucial to combatting fatigue is being able to both recognise more general signs of fatigue and understand the symptoms of fatigue, both physical and mental. We discuss these and how to look after yourself and your colleagues that you suspect may be fatigued.

Organisational Responsibilities

We remind all Police Services that they have a legal duty to identify fatigue and mitigate for it where reasonable. We discuss tools, support plans and legislation that support fatigue identification and what responsibilities employers have.

Individual Responsibilities

Under this header we discuss the actions you can take personal responsibility for, from lifestyle changes to sleep and relaxation techniques that will help you make the most of your downtime.

Fatigue Risk Assessment

We discuss in detail what Health and Safety regulations and managing risk in the workplace looks like, providing the information and tools needed to suitably address fatigue risk assessment, what control measures can look like and any ongoing review and improvement techniques.

We provide links to great fatigue management examples.

Shift/Rota Management

One of the most cited causes of fatigue is shift work.

We discuss at length how to ensure that appropriate shift management is implemented to minimise risk of fatigue, and we have included links to a number of assets that can aid in many areas of shift management.

The Law

It is important that we all understand the law on fatigue, ensuring that expectations of staff and senior management are aligned in their understanding; and where gaps in knowledge may exist, we provide the resource to fill these.

Working Time Regulations

We provide a link to an 11-page Police Federation document that covers the provisions of the Working Time Regulations 1998 with regards to Police Officers and Police Regulations.

Do not disturb poster

Fatigue Posters