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Human factors - Top ten - 4. Fatigue (from shiftwork and overtime)

4. Fatigue (from shiftwork and overtime)

Impaired human reliability from fatigue.

Symptoms include loss of alertness, drowsiness, loss of patience.
Errors include absentminded slips, memory lapses, ‘losing the picture’, etc.
Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Challenger, Exxon Valdez, Clapham Junction and Selby rail crashes all included fatigued staff amongst the root causes.

Introductory resources

Practical tools

Advanced resources

  • An intervention using a self-help guide to improve the coping behaviour of nightshift workers and its evaluation, HSE CRR 365/2001, HSE Books (2001) (
  • Shift work, job type, and the work environment as joint predictors of health related outcomes, Parkes, K. R., J. Occup. Health Psychol. Jul. 4(3):256-68 (1999).
  • Psychosocial aspects of work and health in the North Sea oil and gas industry: Summaries of reports published 1996-2001, HSE RR 002, HSE Books (2002) ISBN 0 7176 2156 1 (
  • Stress Research Group, Oxford University (
  • BEST – Bulletin of European Studies on Time, European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (
  • Effect of shift schedule on offshore shiftworkers' circadian rhythms and health, HSE RR 318, HSE Books (2005), ISBN 0 7176 2973 2 (

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