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Sleep contracts research - EI report

This short project investigated the possibilities offered by sleep contracts as a control measure in managing fatigue.

Sleep contracts, a negotiated procedure for managing day-to-day fatigue risk, offer possibilities in safety critical operations; yet, to date their use has been limited. In addition, knowledge of their theoretical background and guidance on their practical application are lacking.

As part of a programme of activities on the 'top ten' human factors issue of fatigue, the EI’s Human and Organisational Factors Committee (HOFCOM) commissioned Clockwork Consultants Ltd. to review the potential role of sleep contracts. The aim of the review was to provide a snapshot of current knowledge in managing fatigue risk and to report the experiences of companies with operational sleep contracts.

EI Research Report: Viability of using sleep contracts as a control measure in fatigue management provides the findings of that review. It defines sleep contracts and describes how they can be used alongside Hours of Work controls to better manage fatigue risk. Findings from the industry case studies are used to help outline the attributes of a sleep contract, and to set out preliminary thoughts on how they should be negotiated between management and the workforce. Some of their potential benefits are reviewed. The report notes that sleep contracts should be integrated into a company’s existing Safety Management System, thereby providing the supporting structure necessary for identified fatigue risks to be recorded, addressed and reviewed.

Given that the concept of sleep contracts is in its infancy and that only a small number of qualitative industry case studies are reported, the EI Research Report proposes further research to quantify their efficacy; hence, it is premature to define a good practice framework for their implementation. Note that the report purposively avoids addressing political issues relating to working time.

How to access this publication
EI Research Report: Viability of using sleep contracts as a control measure in fatigue management, February 2006, ISBN 978 0 85293 455 5 (free download of priced hard copy)