October 18th, 2009
E Risk newsletter
Welcome to the fourth edition of E-Risk, the periodic electronic newsletter concentrating on all aspects of road safety. In this issue we are continuing the theme of drivers’ health and welfare, as well as the A to Z of safety. We are also pleased to have been contacted by a number of staff members from Arriva PLC who wish to write articles for the newsletter, the first of which should appear in the first issue of 2010.
This newsletter has been designed to assist you, raise awareness, and ultimately protect all of our workforce, and other road users. This is your newsletter and will be guided by your feedback, as such we have introducing a letters page, where we will publish a selection of your views and comments. Each issue will have a star letter which will be awarded £25.00 of high street vouchers.
By working together we can create a better and safer working environment for all of us. Look out for your depot Risk Road shows and come and have a chat with the Risk and or Assistant Risk Manager.
Letter from the Risk Manager
First of all I would like to take the opportunity of thanking all of the subscribers to E-Risk ands those of you that have approached James at the Risk Road-shows this year with ideas and comments. It is your ideas and suggestions that have helped us with the contents of E-Risk and on a bigger scale helped us design the risk strategy throughout 2009 and looking forward to 2010, more on that in the next issue.
As Risk Managers James and I take road safety seriously, it would appear that this is a sentiment shared by all of our staff. It was with this point in mind that each depot appointed a Road Safety Representative, these individuals work with the Risk Management team looking at local road safety matters such as civil engineering problems and incident hotspots and help the risk management team address these and in turn make our roads safer. Remember your local representatives are there to focus on issues that directly affect your depot, so take the opportunity of giving them some feedback, this year they have had some notable successes and are keen to carry this on through the New Year.
In this issue we continue the occasional series of articles on driver welfare, issue 4 sees us covering the subject of fatigue.
Your health and welfare can affect the way you drive and the safety of you, your passengers, and other road users.
Many people can help and advise on looking after your health these include your doctor, health clinics, and your local library, the more you know about looking after your health the easier it is to do it.
We are currently in the process of collating the next issue of E-Risk, which will be out at Christmas and as such we are looking for ideas of any subject you want us to cover. All suggestions, ideas, comments, and letters can be e-mailed to James Mitchell.
Risk Manager Arriva the Shires and Essex
Fatigue and tiredness a company car, bus and coach drivers guide
All drivers both recreational and professional have a legal and moral responsibility to ensure they are fit to drive before getting behind the wheel. A failure to do so could result in a criminal conviction. This could range in severity from careless to dangerous driving and in a worse case scenario causing death by dangerous driving, the latter carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if found guilty. This article has been written to raise awareness of one of the biggest factors of being fit to drive; fatigue.
Being able to react quickly is a very important factor for safe driving. Tired or fatigued drivers have significantly slower reaction times and as such are less safe.
What is driver fatigue?
Fatigue in general is an extreme form of tiredness, which can manifest itself both mentally and physically.
Facts and figures
Did you know?
Most sleep related incidents happen on a Monday.
25% of road crashes resulting in serious injury or death were sleep / fatigue related.
85% of drivers causing sleep related crashes were men.
32% of sleep related crashes were caused by drivers of large vehicles.
Know about the effects of fatigue.
In the section “what is driver fatigue?” above we described this condition as manifesting itself both mentally and physically. We have detailed both types of symptoms here.
Slower reaction times
Lack of perception
Poor or dangerous decision-making
Poor or dangerous judgment
Driving whilst tired means a very real risk of falling asleep.
To accompany the mental symptoms you will also encounter a number of physical signs;
Yawning, this is a side effect of the need for more oxygen
Eyes feeling heavy or closing
Head nodding towards the chest as a result of momentary sleep
Struggling to concentrate or physically distracted
Prolonged periods of fatigue could have a very serious effect on your personal health and well being, such as an increased exposure to high blood pressure, strokes or diabetes.
What can I do to prevent fatigue?
Whilst this may seem like common sense sleep is a very important factor in tackling fatigue. Exercise and a good diet will promote relaxation and help you sleep better.
Sleep is essential for all levels of your well-being. Most adults need on average seven to nine hours of sleep per 24-hour period.
Sleep allows your body to and brain rest to ensure you are alert and refreshed the next day.
Regular late nights and getting up early will increase the risk of fatigue and as such increase the danger of road traffic incidents.
A good diet is a very important factor in helping the body sleep. A very good tip is which foods to avoid before attempting to sleep;
Try to avoid
Coffee and caffeine in general (including sparkling soft drinks)
Over drinking any fluids
By eating a balanced diet of healthy food you can achieve better sleep patterns. Try to choose a variety of foods from the major food groups.
Try to eat
Fresh fruit and vegetables
Bread, cereals, pasta, and potatoes
Meat, fish, and other forms of protein
Fats and oil to be eaten in moderation
Remember the 5 a day rule when eating fruit and vegetables.
Exercise plays a very important role in getting a good night’s sleep. Consider taking regular moderate exercise such as a brisk walk, riding a bike or swimming. However, exercise can increase alertness so avoid exercising within 3 hour of going to bed.
Getting a good night’s sleep
The key to a good night’s sleep is routine. Try to create a bedtime routine which should include winding down before going to bed, e.g. relaxation exercises, reading, or having a warm bath.
Your bed and your bedroom
Try and make your bedroom / sleeping area as comfortable and as clutter free as possible.
Lower the temperature in the bedroom so it isn’t too warm; a cooler environment improves sleep.
Try and invest in a comfortable mattress; if you are waking up with neck or back ache you may need to consider purchasing a new mattress.
Pillows should not be too soft or stacked too high.
You may want to consider wearing ear- plugs or playing relaxing background music to detract from external distractions.
You may want to consider using heavy curtains or black out blinds, especially if your shift pattern means your allocated time to sleep occurs through daylight. Natural light can act as a stimulant, which will affect sleep patterns.
Prescription and other sleeping aids do not cure sleeping problems. Normally they are only to be used as a short-term measure. If you are seeking advice from your GP on any problems with sleep make sure you disclose your occupation. Where possible try and avoid over the counter sleep remedies.
If you are on any medication you must tell your manager about any medicines you are taking. Ideally you should bring the medication into the office along with the guidance notes issued with the medicine.
Medication is commonly split into two types prescription and over the counter.
Prescription medication may have side effects that can affect your ability to drive. When being prescribed any medication by a GP always tell them that you are a vocational driver, and if possible ask them to prescribe drugs that do not affect your driving.
Over the counter medication
ARRIVA the Shires and Essex has produced a leaflet detailing the effects of over the counter medication, specifically cough, cold / flu and allergy remedies.
As vocational drivers you should be aware that many over the counter medications will affect your ability to drive.
Always check the labels. If a medicine lists “ may cause drowsiness” as a side effect this should be read as “will cause drowsiness”. If you are in any doubt speak to your pharmacist who will be only too pleased to offer alternatives.
Stimulant are exactly what they say they are; they are designed awaken senses. Caffeine, tobacco and alcohol will disrupt your normal sleep patterns.
Caffeine does not solely appear in coffee; tea, chocolate, and many soft drinks will also contain caffeine, which will temporarily increase awareness and as such keep you awake. Try and avoid caffeine within 6 hours of your bedtime.
Nicotine, found in tobacco, is a stimulant. As a smoker, when you sleep you will experience nicotine withdrawal, which in turn will affect your sleep patterns. As a general rule smokers tend to experience more nightmares again resulting in disrupted sleep.
If you make the decision to give up smoking you may initially encounter withdrawal symptoms, which will affect your sleep. However the long term effect on your health and sleep make it all worthwhile.
Alcohol is often perceived as a relaxant or sedative, and in some cases is used to assist in falling asleep. However, the sleep attained through alcohol tends to be restless with the body waking many times throughout the night.
Alcohol is absorbed through the stomach lining into the bloodstream within minutes of consumption. A single unit of alcohol will have an adverse affect on your concentration, reaction times and co-ordination.
Alcohol leaves the system at an average rate of one unit per hour. This means that moderate to heavy drinking could easily affect your sleep pattern over a couple of days.
Sleepless nights or problems in getting to sleep may be the sign of an underlying medical issue. If this is a point of concern you should seek medical help. Your General Practitioner may be able to identify what is causing your sleep problem and hopefully identify a suitable cure. In most cases this will be a simple problem with a simple cure, but in extreme case it your sleep disorder may be associated with Obstructive Sleep Apnoea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)
Sleep Apnoea is a condition which produces irregular breathing at night. This in turn causes many mini- waking moments such as snorting for air gasping or snoring, all of which cause irregular sleep.
A common symptom of OSA is a lack of concentration throughout the day, feeling very sleepy and in extreme cases falling asleep at work, during conversations, or even at the wheel.
OSA must be disclosed to the DVLA.
Night time / shift work
If you are working shifts you may find it difficult to sleep, especially if your allotted time for sleep falls out of the normal time the body needs to sleep (0000 hrs through to 0600hrs).
There are however several things shift workers can do to assist with sleep;
Make sleep a priority
Prepare your sleeping area as detailed at the start of this document
Wind down before going to bed
Try to sleep as soon as possible after finishing work
Ask family and friends to help in creating an environment fit for sleeping, such as banning the use of the washing machine or vacuuming through your sleep
Why do we feel sleepy / what is sleep? (Or the scientific bit)
Sleep is controlled by biological cycles called Circadian rhythms, which follow set patterns, to sleep at night and wake during the day. These rhythms cannot be reversed.
If the normal amount of hours you sleep is reduced you develop a “sleep debt”. The lost hours have to be replaced. The only way of replacing a sleep debt is to actually sleep.
The body when waking will encounter a condition called sleep inertia, this is that dazed and groggy feeling at the point of waking. This can affect people who drive very shortly after waking, this condition can reversed within 15 minutes of non- driving activity and noise.