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2003 - Chemical

Following requests from staff, the company were considering a change from 8 hour to 12 hours shift patterns. Andy evaluated the proposed patterns using the HSE's fatigue index and other guidance, including the work time regulations. From this he identified some of the options being considered could result in people working four or more night shifts in a row, and that this may create unnecessary health and safety concerns. As well as fatigue issues, some significant knock-on benefits were expected through improved communication between shifts (less handovers) and with maintenance teams (more likely that jobs would start and finish during the same operations shift). Using HSE research regarding shift handover (HSE offshore report OTO 96003), safety of driving at work (HSE Research Report 020) and his own experiences, Andy presented the potential full impacts of planned changes. Andy discussed the planned changes with the staff likely to be affected. This highlighted some differences of opinion, but a general willingness to give it a go. From the information collected, Andy was able to advise regarding the potential problems with changing the shift and how these could be avoided. Andy has subsequently returned to the site and found that the new shift pattern has been a great success, with staff noticing "radical improvements" in their health, wellbeing and happiness.

The client was planning to change from a 8-hour to 12-hour shift pattern. The main driver for this was that they were having problems arranging cover for holidays, sickness etc. This had resulted in frequent working of double shifts (i.e. 16 hours). Andy made extensive use of fatigue research documented in HSE Contract Research Report 254/1999, and the working time directive and UK regulations. Communication was key element in this project and research about shift handover described in HSE offshore report OTO 96003 was used.