With a significant labor shortage, combined with the fact that many people are still getting sick and have to miss time from work, fatigue management has become a significant issue in nuclear power plants worldwide. Schedule management has been a hot topic because many people are concerned that those who are fatigued will not be able to do their jobs effectively.
Even though the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued fitness-for-duty requirements back in the 1980s, there are some concerns that individuals are not following these guidelines, meaning that they might be working while tired. Some workers could be compelled to work while tired, and other workers might be worried that they could be fired if they refuse to work while exhausted.
It is important to take a closer look at how recent events are impacting those working in nuclear power plants, and what can be done to address fatigue management concerns.
Problems Developing in Nuclear Power Plants
The NRC is supposed to be the watchdog for the federal government, keeping an eye on nuclear power plants to make sure they are being operated safely. The commission has been thrust into the spotlight during the coronavirus pandemic because of numerous scheduling and fatigue concerns related to recent labor shortages.
Even though it is important to keep these reactors functioning, it is just as important to make sure that those who work in the power plants are able to do so safely. Some of the biggest problems developing in nuclear power plants include:
- Nuclear power plants have had to cut back the size of their workforces to facilitate social distancing due to the pandemic. Then, because there are fewer people working in the power plant, nuclear power plants may have to extend their shifts. In some cases, workers might have to work 84 hours per week on back-to-back weeks, leading to a tremendous amount of exhaustion.
- In an effort to reduce the number of people in the power plant, some power plant inspections are taking place virtually. The reality is that safety inspectors cannot possibly see everything they need to if they are working from home. This contributes to further safety issues in the power plant.
- Reactor refueling crews might also end up traveling from plant to plant non-stop, staying either on-site or in nearby communities. This type of travel simply increases the chances of people getting sick or not being able to access the facility at all, which might remove them from the workforce for an extended amount of time.
“Fatigue management is a priority for us to promote employee safety but it has always been a challenge of ours. We often incurred errors from these manual processes which led to duplicate entries with inconsistent and confusing information.”
These are significant problems that need to be addressed as quickly as possible. It is important to make sure that nobody feels pressured to work while tired, and it is important for nuclear power plants to find ways to efficiently schedule their employees to avoid issues related to fatigue.
Automating Fatigue Management Through Schedule Automation with Indeavor
One of the biggest challenges that nuclear power plants place is trying to find a way to schedule their employees quickly and efficiently while still complying with the relevant regulations from the NRC.
The regulations are as follows:
- Workers are not allowed to work more than sixteen hours in a single 24-hour period.
- Workers cannot work more than 26 hours in a single 48-hour period.
- Workers should not work more than 72 hours during a 7-day period.
Furthermore, if workers feel tired and unable to do their jobs, they should be allowed to come off the line without any fear of losing their jobs. It can be difficult to keep track of all of these requirements, and that is where an enterprise scheduling system from Indeavor can be helpful. Some of the biggest benefits of the fatigue management model from Indeavor for the nuclear energy industry include:
One of the first benefits of using an automated scheduling system is that it can save a tremendous amount of time. Nuclear power plants no longer have to worry about calculating employee work hours by hand. Now, it is possible to rely on an automated scheduling system that can keep track of complex fatigue rules and make sure everyone is getting the required amount of time off.
“Accessing Fatigue Management at the point of scheduling has streamlined internal workflows. Indeavor has helped us to consolidate and automate processes that were previously disparate and manually intensive.”
Reduce the Risk of Errors
Furthermore, using an automated system reduces the risk of error. Even though there might be a scheduling team that has a lot of experience calculating work hours, the reality is that mistakes can happen. Some people might end up working more hours than they should. A computerized model can take a look at everyone’s schedule and automatically raise alarms if someone is going over their work hour limits.
Streamline Annual Reporting Requirements
Nuclear power plants also need to follow strict reporting requirements. Instead of having to compile all of this information by hand, it is possible to use this automated fatigue management system to automatically send all required paperwork and documentation to the NRC. This frees up managers to focus on more important areas while prioritizing worker safety.
Promote Worker Safety
One of the biggest benefits of an automated schedule management system is that it improves worker safety. When workers no longer have to worry about working while tired, the chances of making a mistake drop significantly. This promotes a culture of safety that is critical in this industry.
Finally, nuclear power plants can also automate compliance to reduce the chances of facing fines and sanctions. Even a single violation can cost more than $300,000, and nuclear power plants can not only avoid these fines but also reduce the chances of having to pay out unnecessary overtime expenses.
Count on Indeavor’s Fatigue Management System
Nuclear power plants need to do everything they can to make sure their workers feel safe. This means adhering to the work-hour requirements put into place by the NRC. Now, it is possible for nuclear power plants to use the automated fatigue management system from Indeavor to make sure they are not violating any of these rules through effective and efficient scheduling processes. Furthermore, the Indeavor Engage mobile app makes it easier than ever for shift workers and managers to take a look at their work schedules in real-time.
“We have been really happy to work with the specialists at Indeavor for our automated employee scheduling and fatigue management needs. Our workers are safer and happier with access to their schedules through the mobile application that gives them easy access to request changes to their work calendar. The scheduling and FM reports process are much more streamlined now.”
Take a look at the automated scheduling system from Indeavor today.