15th October, 2020
Being a shift worker or a fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) worker impacts your sleep and your lifestyle – and we all know by now there are health ramifications if you don’t properly manage the two.
As it’s Mental Health Awareness Month this month (October) in today’s blog we explore more about the mental health impacts for shift and FIFO workers and list some tips about how to look after your mental health.
The impacts of the job
According to Dr Aliza Werner-Seidler, a Senior Research Fellow at the Black Dog Institute, disturbance to their sleep is often the first thing people with depression notice.
“While most people with poor sleep do not go on to develop a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression, poor sleep and insomnia pose an elevated risk of mental ill-health,” Dr Werner-Seidler says.
The Sleep Foundation reports that “shift work disorder” can increase the risk of health problems like depression. The disorder is a condition which is characterised by insomnia symptoms when a person attempts to sleep, and then they have excessive tiredness while they are at work. It may be because of the disruption of the circadian system (this regulates the release of different chemicals in the body).
Further, shift work can also cause certain social issues that decrease your wellbeing and happiness. If you work irregular hours you might eventually feel “out of step” with the people in your family or social network.
The same can be said for FIFO workers, where one in three workers experiences high levels of psychological distress, according to a government-funded study from Curtin University. Unfortunately, in many cases, the coping mechanism of distressed FIFO works is for drugs/and or alcohol.
Here are some tips, adapted from Beyond Blue and other resources for improving mental health.
Simple ways to improve your wellbeing
- Keep fit. Get regular, daily exercise. Go for a walk, bike ride, bush walk, swimming, yoga, tai chi, or go to the gym (as ideas) and get good quality sleep.
- Eat well. If you eat nutritious snacks and meals, you’re giving your body and your brain the nutrition it needs for optimal functioning.
- Entertain yourself. Read, write a letter or email, play a solo card game, do crosswords or sudoku, go the movies, visit the museum, etc.
- Pamper yourself. It’s not something truck drivers or FIFO workers do a lot of, but consider a massage, go lie on the beach or in a park or take a relaxing bath. It does wonders for time out and relaxation. These things all keep your mental health in check.
- Around the house. Cook something new, listen to music, play in the backyard with your children or pets, so some gardening/look after the lawn.
- Stay connected. Call a friend for a chat or spend time with family and less time in front of the TV or computer screen. Consider volunteering, which lets you help others, and is a great way to meet new people.
Practical strategies to improve sleep
- Reduce or eliminate coffee, nicotine, and alcohol.
- Stick to a regular sleep pattern (when you can, even on the weekend).
- Ensure your bedroom temperature isn’t too warm – cooler conditions help you get to sleep and stay asleep.
- Exercise, particularly early in the day.
- Try to relax and slow down at least 30 minutes before sleep.
- Avoid screens (TV/phone/laptop) before bed, and keep them out of the bedroom.
- Look for ways to lessen the impact of shift work on your quality and quantity of sleep.
Manage your thoughts
Consider phycological therapies to help manage the way you think and behave. Such therapies – by looking at a situation, your mood, and the unhelpful thoughts you might have had – can lead to more positive problem-solving approaches.
Beyond Blue offers some tips to challenging unhelpful thoughts. Ask yourself these questions:
- If a close friend or someone I loved was thinking this way, what would I tell them?
- Five years from now when I look back, will I see things differently?
- Are the things I’m jumping to conclusions about justified by evidence?
- What am I ignoring about my strengths, and how am I coping?
- For more information about coping strategies, and tips for good mental health in the workplace, here is a downloadable guide by Beyond Blue.
If you or a loved one is finding it hard to cope with the FIFO or shift-work lifestyle, please consult your GP. Wherever you are in Australia you can also speak with a trained health professional via the Beyond Blue Support Service:
- Call 1300 224 636 (available 24/7)
- Chat online (between 3pm-12am AEST)
- Email (receive a response within 24 hours)
The Government of Western Australia has also released a Code of Practice for mentally healthy workplaces for FIFO workers. If you would like to read this, it can be accessed here.
14th September, 2020
Workers’ fatigue is a significant problem in modern industry, largely because of high demand jobs, long duty periods, disruption of circadian rhythms, and accumulative sleep debt that are common in many industries. Fatigue is the result of integration of multiple factors such as time awake, time of day, and workload. Good nutrition is the foundation for healthy and safe workers
Many health professionals suggest good nutrition is the foundation for healthy and safe workers. Eating healthy, frequent meals stabilise your blood sugar levels and sustain your energy. The foods you pair together, such as wholegrains paired with protein, can also help prolong an energy high. If you’re feeling tired, remember that what we choose to eat as our body’s fuel will impact the performance of our bodies.
Read on to learn about 10 foods that can help you feel more alert, ward of muscle fatigue and help give you the energy you need to power through the day.
Whole eggs contain plenty of nutrients and are also a good source of fats, which help the body absorb vitamins. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a typical egg contains 7 grams of protein, provides 4% of the recommended daily intake of calcium and 6% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. It is also a source of zinc and iron, which helps with energy production in the body.
During long periods of exercise, you will see many athletes reach for a banana. Bananas are a good source of carbohydrates and potassium – a combination that provides a long-lasting source of energy.
- Chia seeds
Nutrient-rich chia seeds are a source of protein, fibre and omega-3 fatty acids. Fibre helps prevent blood sugar spikes around mealtimes and omega 3 fatty acids fight muscle inflammation. Fatigue can be caused by rapid changes in blood sugar levels.
Oats are high in fibre and complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are more difficult for the body to break down which makes them a longer lasting source of energy.
Watermelons contain 92% water, which makes them a great source of hydration, which wards of fatigue. They also contain vitamin C, vitamin A and other nutrients.
Spinach is a green leafy vegetable rich in iron, vitamin K and magnesium. Spinach is excellent in salads, smoothies or in stir-fry and pasta dishes.
Whole almonds are nutrient-rich in fats, fibre and protein. Protein and fat can provide the feeling of fullness and increase energy levels. They also contain vitamin E and magnesium. A small handful make a great morning or afternoon snack. Other healthy nut and seed choices include Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Raw, unsalted versions are best.
Our bodies are made up of about 60% water, and is therefore essential for optimal functioning of the body. According to Healthline, water facilitates the energetic processes of the body, which is an energy boost in itself. Try drinking only water when you would usually reach for any other drink and notice the difference.
Beans are packed full of fibre, which take longer for the body to digest and help keep you feeling fuller for longer. Beans are also rich in magnesium, which helps the body relax and restore energy.
- Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes have a quarter of a day’s worth of potassium. Potassium helps keep electrolytes balanced which helps with hydration. Potassium is also known to relax the body and lower blood pressure, which results in less stress and fatigue.
Food and drinks to avoid
There are foods and drinks which can increase feelings of fatigue, including those that are high in sugar. Foods like this can spike energy but then lead to a quick dip immediately. Foods that aid fatigue include white bread, sugary foods such as syrup and honey, baked items, high caffeine drinks like energy drinks and heavily processed foods such as potato chips.
28th May, 2020
There are many benefits to a trucking life, but there are also some downsides, with fatigue being one of them. Even if you get enough restful sleep every day, unhealthy habits such as poor diet and lack of exercise can contribute to unnecessary tiredness.
Maintain your health, or adopt some healthy habits, with the following tips. Followed daily, they aim to boost your energy levels, lower blood pressure, promote weight loss and improve your overall quality of life.
Here are seven healthy habits to be mindful of in the trucking industry:
1. Exercise every day
Regardless of the industry you work in, Australia’s health experts recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, which is based on your health and fitness level. Allocate time to exercise before or after driving and do some stretching exercises every time you need to refuel. If you want to stimulate your metabolism and feel energised throughout the drive, find a safe place to park your truck and walk for at least 10 minutes to get the blood pumping.
2. Skip the fast-food
Fast food often equals high amounts of salt and saturated fat and offers few nutritional benefits. If you’ve forgotten to pack your meals, try the supermarket for pre-cooked convenience foods like salads, sushi or deli sandwiches. Concentrate on high-fibre and protein-rich foods that will help keep you feeling full for longer. Look for any opportunity to increase vegies (especially greens) and fruit to your diet – think soups, stews, smoothies as examples.
- Eatforhealth.gov.au is an excellent resource to find out about the foods we need to eat for optimal health and wellbeing.
3. Relieve stress
Look out for signs you’re stressed. That way you can identify what triggers your stress and how to better manage it when it does happen. If you’re driving, listen to your favourite music – just doing this will increase dopamine – the “feel good” neurochemical in the brain. Other ways to de-stress include exercise, spending time outdoors or practising mindfulness.
4. Get plenty of water
Dehydration leads to fatigue. It impacts the flow of oxygen to the brain and causes your heart to work harder. Drinking lots of water will boost your energy, helping to keep you more alert. Not only is it the healthiest drink to have, it is the most important element for our bodies after oxygen. Try to drink filtered or boiled water where you can and have at least two litres a day.
5. Quit smoking
Smoking robs your body of oxygen, which is required for energy and healthy brain function. Call Quitline on 13QUIT if you need help.
6. Prioritise sleep
Ensure good, quality sleep by ensuring your sleeper berth is a slightly cooler temperature and has a comfortable mattress, pillow and other bedding. Put your phone on silent and consider getting a white noise machine to block out outside noise.
7. Measure your fatigue
Use SmartCap’s “Life” wearable technology inside to help alert you to when you become fatigued. The wearable technology monitors your brainwaves and sends alerts to the application on your phone. This way you can eliminate microsleeps – the number one cause of accidents in the trucking workplace. By knowing what your tired triggers are, you can then more proactively manage your fatigue and adopt healthy habits to suit your drive/lifestyle.
- Learn more about how SmartCap can help you manage your fleets fatigue.
2nd April, 2020
Workers’ fatigue is a significant problem in modern industry, largely because of high demand jobs, long duty periods, disruption of circadian rhythms, and accumulative sleep debt that are common in many industries. Fatigue is the result of integration of multiple factors such as time awake, time of day, and workload.
Every business and industry can be affected by fatigue. However, some types of work and some sectors have an inherently higher risk of fatigue, particularly when shift work is part of their business model which is commonplace in the mining and resources industry.
What is fatigue?
Fatigue is an extreme level of tiredness and drowsiness. In the workplace, fatigue is mental and/or physical exhaustion that reduces your ability to perform your work safely and effectively.
Signs of fatigue
There are many signs of fatigue including
- tiredness even after sleep
- reduced hand-eye coordination or slow reflexes
- short term memory problems and an inability to concentrate
- blurred vision or impaired visual perception
- a need for extended sleep during days off work.
Causes of fatigue
Causes of fatigue can be work related, personal or a combination of both. They can also be short term or accumulate over time.
Work causes of fatigue might include:
- prolonged or intense mental or physical activity
- sleep loss and/or disruption of your internal body clock
- organisational change
- exceptionally hot or cold working environments
- work scheduling
- excessively long shifts
- not enough time to recover between shifts
- strenuous jobs
- long commuting times.
Some workers are at a high risk of fatigue because their work typically involves some or all of these factors, for example:
- shift workers
- night workers
- fly-in, fly-out workers
- drive in, drive out workers
- seasonal workers
- on-call and call-back workers
- emergency service workers
- medical professionals and other health workers.
Impacts of fatigue in the workplace
Fatigue in the workplace doesn’t only impact on workers’ mental and physical health, it can also impact on the health and safety of those around them.
Fatigue results in a lack of alertness, slower reactions to signals or situations, and affect a worker’s ability to make good decisions. This can increase the risk of incidents and injury in a workplace, particularly when:
- operating fixed or mobile high-risk plant
- driving a vehicle
- working at heights
- working with flammable or explosive substances
- hazardous work
Managing fatigue in the workplace
Most people are aware of the dangers of driver fatigue but our ability to recognise the signs diminishes as we become more fatigued. Fortunately, SmartCap have created wearable technology that monitors fatigue in real time, helping to eliminate the risk of microsleeps. Our product, ‘Life’ is the world’s most effective fatigue monitoring solution that provides real-time feedback, helping operators manage their alertness.
The team at SmartCap are committed to safety and ensuring that everyone gets home safely every day. We believe that every person is responsible for managing their own fatigue, and our technology is designed to ensure that individuals are empowered to make this possible. Through alerts, reports and profiles each user will know when they are at risk and the times of the day that their risk is greatest. SmartCap helps our customers to develop and implement techniques to effectively manage fatigue to ensure their workforce is safe. This is able to occur due to:
- Centralised Monitoring
- Real time fatigue monitoring technology using EEG
- Real Time Fatigue Alerts provided to the operator
- Effective Results
- Road Tested & Proven
Life by SmartCap empowers every worker with early-warning alerts. Without the need for in-cab cameras, Life ensures ongoing compliance with even the strictest of workplace privacy requirements.
Learn more about how SmartCap can help manage fatigue at your workplace today.
25th March, 2020
For some organisations, near-term survival is the only agenda item. Others are peering through the fog of uncertainty, thinking about how to position themselves once the crisis has passed and things return to normal. The global impact of COVID-19 is causing us all to re-think our ways of being and working and we at SmartCap believe it is important to explain how we intend to navigate these uncharted waters to ensure your safety and interests are protected.
OPEN FOR BUSINESS
We are open for business and there are no interruptions to the use of our fatigue monitoring system, the protection it provides operators, or the support available for our customers.
WELLBEING IS PARAMOUNT
The wellbeing of our employees, customers and suppliers is our top priority to ensure we all emerge healthy and safe at the time of this unprecedented crisis.
SUPPORTING YOU TO STAY CONNECTED
SmartCap has proven systems in place to remotely support existing customers along with remotely deploying the system to new customers, includes all training, change management activities and support without the need to travel to site.
There is no underestimating the challenges ahead, but our extraordinary team is ready to support you and remains committed to continued provision of exceptional service to all our clients through these unprecedented times.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us via our website www.smartcaptech.com with your questions and ideas. This is new territory for all of us but together we will tackle the challenges ahead.
30th October, 2019
Understanding the link between fatigue and distraction is a vital step towards preventing road accidents.
We don’t need to tell you that distracted drivers are a significant problem on today’s roads, or that the consequences of distracted driving can be horrific.
In America, a reported 25% of motor vehicle crash fatalities are due to distracted driving. In reality, the figure is likely to be even higher – unless they admit to it, it’s hard to accurately measure whether a driver was distracted at the time they had an accident.
- alcohol consumption
All four of these causes are preventable. In terms of speeding and alcohol/drug consumption, we know what needs to happen at an individual level and in terms of road monitoring and law enforcement.
When it comes to fatigue and distraction, however, the problem is more complex.
So, what exactly is meant by ‘distracted driving’? Broadly speaking, it means that a driver is paying attention to another activity while they’re driving.
Because we’re not as good at multitasking as we’d like to think we are, when our focus shifts to another activity it can reduce our standard of driving. We may:
- be less observant
- react slowly to hazards
- speed without realising
- decrease following distance
- make poor driving decisions.
Driver distractions can be divided into two categories:
External distraction includes breaks in concentration that are:
- visual (taking your eyes off the road)
- manual (taking your hands off the wheel)
- auditory (not hearing as well as possible).
Cognitive distraction is internal and happens when you’re unable to remain attentive or are thinking about something unrelated to driving. Typically, cognitive distractions mean that you pay less attention to scanning the road environment and checking your mirrors for hazards. You may also underestimate how distracted you are.
Where does fatigue come in?
Fatigue intensifies the extent to which we are distracted, and in fact is the underlying cause of distracted driving.
When it comes to external distractions (for instance, when our attention is diverted by something we see on the side of the road), they’re more likely to impact our driving performance when our attention is already compromised because we’re tired.
Cognitive distraction is even more closely linked to fatigue. The ‘wandering mind’ or ‘zoning out’ we experience when we’re cognitively distracted is often a direct result of fatigue.
Detection and prevention
Detecting signs of fatigue and distraction is crucial to preventing accidents. Over the years, different technologies have been developed in order to do this, from monitoring steering patterns and vehicle position to observing the driver’s eyes and face.
But cognitive distraction can’t be accurately detected using these techniques because there aren’t always visible changes in the driver. That’s where brainwave monitoring comes in. Our SmartCap Life wearable solution:
- regularly measures a driver’s brainwaves using state-of-the-art electroencephalogram (EEG) technology
- detects driver fatigue in real time
- generates early warning alarms to warn drivers when they’re showing signs of fatigue and distraction.
By accurately measuring and reporting fatigue and distraction based on brain activity, SmartCap is consistently delivering dramatic safety improvements, year after year, across industries including mining and road transport. Contact us today to find out more.
8th October, 2019
While we’re all familiar with the phrase “falling asleep at the wheel”, the image of a driver slumped over the steering wheel with his eyes shut as his vehicle veers off the road doesn’t tell the full story of fatigue-related accidents.
In reality, that driver who’s about to crash may be sitting up with his eyes wide open. While he continues to drive, part of his exhausted brain has switched off. He hasn’t “fallen asleep” in the conventional sense; he’s having a microsleep.
What is a microsleep, exactly?
A microsleep is an unintended loss of attention that can happen when you’re fatigued and doing something monotonous, like driving a car or sitting at a computer. It’s also (as the name suggests) short – lasting from less than a second to 30 seconds.
During a microsleep, parts of the brain go offline while other parts keep working – so you can essentially be asleep while you’re still sitting upright with your eyes open. Creepy, right? When you’re driving, a microsleep might mean you don’t notice a red light, or another vehicle in your path, or a curve in the road ahead.
How dangerous are they?
We all know driver fatigue is a factor in many road accidents. But how significant is the problem?
Pretty significant, according to the Victorian Government’s Transport Accident Commission (TAC), which notes that:
● Drowsy driving is suspected to be a primary cause in more than 20 percent of road fatalities. That’s fatalities, not just accidents.
● The more severe the crash, the more likely it is that fatigue was a factor.
● Fatigue is thought to play a part in nearly a third of all single-vehicle crashes in rural areas.
America’s AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety studied drivers who’d fallen asleep and crashed. It found, alarmingly, that nearly half of them reported feeling only “slightly drowsy” or “not at all drowsy” before the accident, demonstrating that when we’re tired, we don’t realise how tired we are. Typically, most people need to be asleep for two to four minutes before they acknowledge they’ve been asleep. When we consider this in the context of driving, we see just how dangerous a microsleep of just a few seconds can be.
The risks of microsleeps, of course, aren’t limited to the roads – there are people all over the world, every day, operating industrial machinery, flying planes, overseeing work and using equipment, who pose a risk to themselves and others if they lose control due to a microsleep.
Famous examples of fatigue-related accidents include the world’s worst nuclear disaster at Chernobyl and the Challenger space shuttle explosion (both in 1986), as well as multiple airline crashes.
How to avoid microsleeps
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about fatigue is your body can’t actually fight the need to sleep. When you’re tired, chemicals build up in your brain that will cause you to fall asleep – no one is immune to the risk of microsleeps.
There are ways to guard against them though:
● Get a good night’s sleep before heading off on a long trip.
● Don’t travel for more than eight to ten hours a day.
● Take regular breaks every couple of hours at least.
● Avoid travelling at times when you’d usually be sleeping.
● Take a powernap if you start getting drowsy.
In commercial and industrial settings, preventative fatigue technology is delivering dramatic results by tracking driver alertness in real time. At SmartCap, we’re working with industry – from mining to road transport – to monitor drivers and operators and make fatigue incidents a thing of the past.
1st October, 2019
Australian company SmartCap Technologies is expanding into the US trucking market. SmartCap’s wearable technology prevents microsleeps by providing accurate fatigue measurements in real time to operators and drivers.
SmartCap’s LifeBand headgear can be worn under a cap by drivers and uses state-of-the-art EEG technology to provide the earliest and most accurate detection of fatigue risk in real-time. LifeBand connects via Bluetooth to a display within the cabin, where the Life App provides real-time fatigue measurements and empowers drivers to proactively manage their alertness, anywhere, anytime.
“We are confident that we can transform the American trucking industry, making it safer and significantly reducing the risk from fatigue both for drivers and the businesses who employ them,” said SmartCap CEO Tim Ekert. “Across a nation as vast as the US, transportation of goods by truck is hugely significant – the industry employs millions of drivers and generates hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue each year.”
“By eliminating microsleeps, our real time fatigue technology eliminates the number one cause of driver accidents in the workplace,” Ekert pointed out.
SmartCap’s technology was originally developed to overcome the limitations of other fatigue monitoring systems in the mining industry. Over the past decade, it’s been put to use by some of the world’s biggest companies, from mining to road transport.
“All of our clients see dramatic results when they implement SmartCap technology. We’re working with industry to make driver fatigue incidents a thing of the past,” said Ekert.
“We are excited by the prospect of making a positive impact on the US trucking market, both in terms of the safety of drivers along with reducing the costs associated with fatigue related accidents.”
SmartCap will be exhibiting at the American Trucking Association (ATA) 2019 Management Conference & Exhibition (MCE) at the San Diego Convention Centre, where leaders from across the country will meet from 5-9 October.
Visit www.smartcaptech.com for more information about SmartCap.
17th September, 2019
SmartCap’s CEO Tim Ekert, global sales manager Gavin Juhasz and business development managers Omar Jimenez and Lisa Lane look forward to attending this year’s American Trucking Associations (ATA) Management Conference & Exhibition (MCE) from 5 – 9 October in San Diego, California.
This high-profile event brings together nearly 3,000 trucking leaders from across the country and highlights economic, regulatory and business trends focused on driving the success of fleets today and in the future.
We look forward to networking and hearing from industry leaders as we expand into the US trucking market. We are excited at the prospect of making a positive impact on trucking in the US with SmartCap’s state-of-the-art wearable technology – both in terms of driver safety and by reducing the costs associated with fatigue-related accidents.
30th November, 2017
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, 30th November 2017. SmartCap Technologies has announced the appointment of Tim Ekert as the company’s new CEO. He will assume responsibilities on 18th December 2017 and will succeed Dush Wimal who has stepped down and will operate as VP of Global Sales.
Tim has spent his career in the mining services industry, most recently as part of the senior management team at Austin Engineering. He brings a strong focus on building operational capability, innovation as well as experience in product development, growing sales and marketing teams. He has qualifications in engineering and business.
“SmartCap’s predictive fatigue management technology provides significant benefits to our clients resulting in improvements to both safety and productivity and I look forward to meeting with our clients to discuss these benefits and support their implementation” said Tim.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead SmartCap and am excited to be working in conjunction with the SmartCap’s team to realise the potential of our market leading technology”.
“We’re very excited to welcome Tim to the SmartCap team” said Charles Gillies, Chair of SmartCap. “Tim has the skills and experience to continue to build SmartCap’s position as a world leader in fatigue management, starting with the mining industry.”
The SmartCap Board also expressed its thanks and appreciation for the work done by the outgoing CEO, Dush Wimal.
Founded in 2009, SmartCap Technologies is an innovative wearables company located in Brisbane, Australia. The technology behind Life by SmartCap was initially developed to overcome the limitations of fatigue monitoring technologies. Today, SmartCap is used by some of the world’s largest companies in the mining industry.
For more, visit www.smartcaptech.com and follow us @smartcaponline and on LinkedIn.