Survey: Employee fatigue can cost energy companies millions

A new survey commissioned by Kronos Incorporated and conducted by PennEnergy reveals that employee fatigue causes energy organizations to lose on average $87,000 to $2.4 million per year, depending on company size. The survey also uncovers that working a 20-hour day or working 14 days in a row without a day off is more likely to cause fatigue than working mostly night shifts.

The new survey, titled “The Effects of Employee Fatigue and its Management in the Energy Industry,” surveyed frontline managers, directors, and C-level executives across the energy industry comprising oil and gas, oil services, and power sectors.

The survey represents views from companies with a total of about 350,000 employees. The views reflect top influences of employee fatigue; its impact; and what companies are doing to manage it.

The top influences of employee fatigue as found by the survey are as follows in order:

·      The number of hours worked per day

·      Number of consecutive days worked without more than 24 hours off

·      Total hours worked in a week

·      Working mostly nights

Survey respondents rank productivity losses, quality issues, and minor accidents as the top three impacts of employee fatigue on companies. In fact, fatigue causes 10 percent of lost productivity and 12 percent of quality issues in the energy sector. And frontline managers attribute 40 percent more to productivity and quality issues to fatigue than C-level respondents. Absenteeism, increased healthcare costs, and major accidents follow as other impacts of fatigue.

Respondents, who believe that their companies have effective internal fatigue guidelines, also believe that fatigue causes fewer production problems. However 57 percent of all respondents report that their company does not have or they are not aware that their companies have internal guidelines for managing fatigue. The survey findings also indicate that C-level leaders consider internal fatigue-related guidelines to be less important, compared to frontline managers.

And while around half of respondents consider the design of schedules to be a key element in a fatigue-management effort, fewer than one in 10 oil and gas organizations surveyed currently have a system with real-time capability of reporting potential fatigue, which combines work history with upcoming schedules.

“Finding and producing energy is a 24×7 business, naturally leading to high employee fatigue levels and this survey confirms that the industry recognizes the causes and impacts of fatigue, said Charlie DeWitt, vice president, business development, Kronos. “At Kronos we offer a workforce management solution that helps energy companies manage fatigue with real-time visibility into labor, work-in-process, and equipment. Without such a system, fatigue can only be assessed retrospectively, limiting prevention. We believe that forward-thinking companies will increasingly embrace such technology.”

“The survey shows a major disconnect concerning employee fatigue in the energy industry. Employee fatigue isn’t being thoroughly addressed by many energy companies, but it can have a major impact on business, even affecting the bottom line. Managing employee fatigue is an area in need of urgent attention if employers want to ensure and improve productivity,” said Hilton Price, petroleum content editor, PennEnergy.

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