Only 58 nuclear power plants are responsible for generating roughly 20% of America’s electricity. A small number compared to the hundreds of oil and gas rigs scattered throughout the country. Despite its size, the nuclear energy industry is one of the most heavily regulated commercial sectors.
With heavy physical labor and harsh environmental conditions, there are inherent dangers to the trade like fires, explosions, and radiation exposure. The workforce is also older compared to other energy sectors, with nearly a third of professionals aged 55 or above, compared to just 20% in oil and gas. Compounding the issue of a steadily retiring workforce is the fact that hiring managers are struggling to fill technical roles. This looming skills shortage means that current employees endure irregular shifts and long hours to keep up with demand.
All these factors contribute to worker fatigue. Every plant is required by law to adhere to the fatigue management rules set forth by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Each year, NRC specialists are expected to make anywhere between 10-25 routine inspections of each nuclear power plant. There has been a 25% increase in the issued number of Significant Enforcement Actions, known as “escalations”, for failure to comply with regulations.
The increase in violations can be partially explained by how underserved the nuclear industry has been with compliance technology. Schedulers are still relying on either manual processes or outdated software when creating the shift schedule, and neither of these methods make calculating and adhering to the various fatigue rules any easier.
In a push to provide a modern solution to mitigate scheduling mistakes, and to properly assist an underserved yet vitally important industry, Indeavor is pleased to announce our new Fatigue Management module.
The True Cost of Fatigue: Why NRC Guidelines Are Necessary
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), fatigued workers cost employers nearly 4x more annually—that is, $136 billion—than their non-fatigued counterparts in health-related lost productive time (LPT).
LPT can mainly be defined by absenteeism, which is regularly missing work, and presenteeism, which is physically showing up to work but not being fully functional enough to be productive. Working at a power plant while being ill, injured, or exhausted makes you more prone to error, which can have dangerous (and potentially fatal) consequences.
The NSC claims that “more than 43% of workers are sleep-deprived, and those most at risk work the night shift, long shifts or irregular shifts.” These work patterns are typical at a nuclear power plant, which is why the NRC’s fatigue rules are critical in increasing safety performance and mitigating the threat of accidents.
Automated Adherence: Why Our Module Is Necessary
The penalty fee for a single violation can cost as much as $303,471 per day. And there are many opportunities for a violation.
- Maximum hour work rules
- Minimum break rules
- Online minimum day off rules during an evaluation period
- 54-hour average per week rules during an evaluation period
- Outage rules
Accounting for all these rules without a sophisticated and modern software solution geared toward the nuclear industry—while still considering demand needs and employee qualifications—is prone to errors and other inefficiencies. Our Fatigue Management report provides further information on why spreadsheets and paper processes are making compliance more complicated than it needs to be.
Indeavor’s Fatigue Management module will make it easier for plants to adhere to the above rules and ensure none of the schedules ever violate them. Schedulers are alerted when they do violate a rule; then, they are given a chance to either back out, adjust to remain compliant, assign a different qualified employee who doesn’t violate fatigue rules, or complete a waiver form as needed. All recordkeeping (digitized waiver forms, automated fatigue reports on waiver counts and violations, pending violations, employee schedules) is centralized in our cloud-based system for easy auditing.
By partnering with Indeavor, you reap the benefits of both our modern compliance module and our demand-based scheduling solution. With manual scheduling processes, it is hard to control labor costs due to lack of enforcement and visibility. How much overtime are you scheduling, and how much is actually necessary? Did you pick a higher cost replacement to fill a vacancy despite other options? Are you consistently overstaffing your shifts and paying idle workers?
With Indeavor Schedule, you’ll better control these costs and:
- Create a schedule in minutes that is accurate, consistent, eliminates user error, and follows operational rules
- Automate your overtime schedule generation
- Leverage demand planning capabilities to ensure both straight time and OT shifts are staffed to match only what you need
- Assign only qualified workers to each position, improving worker safety and productivity
- Fill sudden scheduling gaps quickly and with the best option, based on skills certification and availability
The Indeavor Solution
Indeavor provides automated scheduling and absence management, along with module add-ons, to complex enterprises. With our Fatigue Management module, we can help nuclear power plants adhere to complex NRC rules in addition to our demand planning functionalities.
If you’re one of the 58 nuclear plants in the US, you can’t afford to mismanage your employees… or continue to utilize outdated software from vendors who lack the expertise of the complicated nuclear industry fatigue rules. Click here to request a demo.
Indeavor’s solution offers clients an end-to-end, cloud-based employee scheduling and absence management system. By integrating with your human capital management and enterprise resource planning systems, you can leverage a robust platform that provides you with real-time employee data. Relieve your supervisors of manual tasks and the constant mental fatigue brought upon by scheduling changes by automating the entire process, connecting the data to all of your existing corporate systems, and ensuring you always have the right qualified employee in each position.