Safe railways for Australia

Managing fatigue

Fatigue can be a major source of risk in the rail industry due to its 24-hour nature.

It is normal for workers, especially those undertaking shiftwork, to experience fatigue – a state of reduced mental or physical capacity caused by factors including sleep loss, extended time awake, circadian phase (time of day) and workload.

Fatigue can cause performance impairment. The level of impairment depends on the degree of fatigue experienced and the vulnerability of the particular tasks to the effects of fatigue.

Fatigue risk management model

ONRSR has developed a simple and practical model (see diagram) to demonstrate the multiple layers of defence required to effectively manage fatigue. The model incorporates elements to optimise sleep, alertness, performance and manage errors.


ONRSR is reviewing fatigue risk management under the Rail Safety National Law find out more.

For more information, contact ONRSR's fatigue risk management specialist on (02) 8263 7100 or email .

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Last updated: 13 September 2016