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.
Below 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.
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.
18th August, 2017
WRITTEN BY: ANITA DOBBYN, SmartCap Marketing Assistant
There is nothing worse than getting a rough night’s sleep, but what’s worse is getting a perfect night’s sleep and having absolutely no explanation for the exhaustion that is felt later. I am sure I am not the only one that has been perplexed by a sleep tracker that has suggested I have gotten the ideal amount of sleep.
How can you get a solid 8 hours of rest but still find yourself in a zombie-like trance? Research suggests that there are several other reasons causing our fatigue.
One of the culprits behind your 4-a-day coffee benders could be medication. From antidepressants to a simple antihistamine, there are so many medications that can cause fatigue. While it is not logical to go off any type of medication ever, it is important you keep yourself well informed and fatigue monitoring technologies can protect those people that may be at risk due to medication.
You also might want to assess your lifestyle choices, as they play a big part in your levels of fatigue. If foods high in sugar and saturated fat are almost staples in your weekly diet, maybe a consultation with a dietician can assist you in making some improvements.
Pair a new-found love of healthy food with 30minutes of exercise a day and you might just have a bit more of a spring in your step! Changing your lifestyle choices and habits takes time, so take it day-by-day, make small lifestyle changes at first then gradually work towards adopting a brand new way of living.
Another reason you may be feeling fatigued is due to an undiagnosed health condition. For myself, I spent many years feeling exhausted, regardless of the amount of sleep I was getting.
When I was a teenager, I self-diagnosed myself as just being a teen that needs sleep (Thank you Dr. Google for the support over the years). Eventually, Dr. Google’s theory came unstuck when a blood test confirmed I was in fact anemic. I knew my hate of red meat would catch up with me eventually.
Luckily, anemia isn’t an incredibly serious health problem and supplements can help, except for the days when I forget to take them.
However, there are other health conditions that are far more serious and they all can cause you to feel fatigued. Medical conditions such as diabetes, an underactive thyroid, chronic fatigue syndrome and sleep apnea all can cause fatigue. All present their own set of challenges, particularly the conditions which are treated by medication that has fatigue as a side-effect.
So, don’t just assume fatigued is always sleep related. There are many factors that contribute to feeling fatigued and this article only brushes the surface. If you were once bewildered by your feelings of fatigue despite how much sleep you were getting, I hope this puts some of the pieces of the fatigue puzzle together for you.
You can read more about the symptoms and causes of fatigue here.
21st July, 2017
WRITTEN BY: DR. DANIEL BONGERS, SMARTCAP INVENTOR, AND CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER
I’ve worn SmartCap products for thousands of hours over the years; in mining trucks, road trains, planes, cars, for many long days in the office, and even in my kayak. But as time has passed and as I’ve moved further away from product development, I seem to now mostly use our product when I drive.
Last month that all changed, when our new VP of Product Development, Brett Carswell, asked us to test the new Life by SmartCap app release. Since then, I’ve worn it every day and I’ve quickly learned that my changing role (and maybe a little aging) has brought about some different patterns in my alertness throughout the day.
I’ve always considered myself a night owl. Whether I was writing algorithms or business plans, afternoons and late nights was when I did my best work. Not so anymore. The numbers don’t lie, and the verdict is in – I’ve become Mr. Average. Of course, I’d like to think I’m special in some ways, but when it comes to my peak times of performance, I’m like most; 9 am to midday is my time to shine!
The likely explanation is that I’ve adopted a healthier rhythm of getting to bed at a sensible hour, coupled with the fact that I’m well into my thirties (yes, that’s how I choose to say it). My afternoons show a window from 3 pm to 4 pm when I’m still quite sharp, but by 6 pm it’s time to call it a day.
So now what? Do I run to the marketing department and tell them that I have some cool insights that show how awesome our product is? Well yes, but it’s also time to make some changes.
Despite what I hope my boss thinks, some of my tasks are more on the mundane end of the spectrum – so it’s time to move them to early afternoon or late afternoon; the more demanding tasks I’ll hit mid-late morning.
“…I only found out that my own assumptions about my alertness didn’t align with reality because I measured it.”
It’s not a ray of light from the clouds by any measure. However, I only found out that my own assumptions about my alertness didn’t align with reality because I measured it. So while I get a little more productive, maybe you can buy a LifeBand or two and do the same!
PRESS RELEASE: SmartCap and Newtrax: A world first collaboration for global underground mining operations4th May, 2017
Brisbane, QLD – 04 May, 2017- SmartCap Technologies have announced their new collaboration with Newtrax Technologies. These two industry-leading safety solution providers will be working together over the coming months to adapt Life by SmartCap, a world-first solution that will suit underground mining conditions.
The new initiative will bring many benefits to both operators and supervisors alike. Life provides real-time alerts to prevent microsleeps before they happen, empowering users to be their own fatigue manager. Supervisors will have real-time data access so they can make fact-based decisions that keep their workforce safe.
Newtrax Technologies, based in Montreal, Canada, is the leading provider of safety and operations management solutions to the global underground hard rock mining industry. Newtrax’s connectivity solutions are designed to support real-time data applications underground, enabling a quicker timeframe for the implementation of Life for SmartCap customers. The integrated solution will allow for intervention from control rooms on site, in real-time when a high-level fatigue alert is received.
“Newtrax is always looking to enhance its systems with novel sensors and the SmartCap Life product is a perfect addition to our safety portfolio. We expect most of our customers to select this option to achieve a more comprehensive monitoring of hazards.” Said Alexandre Cervinka, CEO of Newtrax.
“Working with Newtrax, proven leaders in safety and communications for underground hard rock mining provides SmartCap with an exciting opportunity to be able to deliver our validated fatigue monitoring solution to underground workers. Our partnership with Newtrax will integrate key technologies to improve the safety and efficiency of underground miners.” SmartCap Technologies VP Product Development, Mr. Brett Carswell.
For all media inquiries please contact Ms. Kristy Hamilton:
28th April, 2017
Underground Mine Adopts Life by SmartCap Program
Brisbane, Australia- 27 April, 2017– An underground mine in Western Australia will be taking part in a 60-day Life by SmartCap program with assistance from Sano Health, a leading provider of workplace health and wellness programs.
Both SmartCap Technologies and Sano Health believe health and wellness of employees are paramount for maintaining a safe work environment. Sano Health offers their clients a range of health and wellness programs, this includes fatigue management system development.
The Life by SmartCap App will benefit operators by providing real-time fatigue alerts anywhere, anytime. The Life App is paired with the LifeBand which can fit into any type of headwear or can alternatively be worn comfortably on its own. SmartCap’s product offering aids wellness initiatives on site and empowers workers to be their own fatigue manager.
SmartCap and Sano Health will guide operators throughout the 60-day initiative as they embark on a two-phase program. The first phase will comprise of data collection to determine a baseline. The following phase focuses on educating operators on the real-time fatigue alerts they will receive while using Life.
SmartCap Technologies Sales Manager Mr. Simon Wheeler shared his thoughts on the pilot, “This is a great opportunity to work together with Sano Health. This initiative will demonstrate the flexibility of Life while operating in an underground mining environment. Life acts as an operator’s co-driver and assists them throughout their shift so they get home safe, every day.”
“At Sano Health, we understand prevention is much more effective than a reactive based fatigue management system. This is what caught our eye when it came to the SmartCap technology in ensuring crew members are able to manage their fatigue before fatigue related symptoms are developed. This is an exciting venture to work alongside SmartCap to create a safer workplace and aim for zero fatigue related incidents whilst on site” said Mr. Luke Daniher, Health Manager, Sano Health.
23rd December, 2016
Brisbane, QLD Australia – 23 December 2016- Fatigue management in the mining industry has come into question after a central Queensland coal miner was awarded over a $1million in damages, following his fatigue related accident on the way home from a 12-hour shift.
While existing fatigue monitoring technologies lack the capability of providing monitoring on the way to and from work. SmartCap Technologies product, Life has overcome that limitation by introducing a fatigue monitoring wearable to the market that can be used anywhere, anytime and has the lowest false-alarm rate in the industry, with a 94.7% level of accuracy.
The LifeBand worn on the user’s head syncs via Bluetooth to their smartphone and this is the key to SmartCap’s successful new product. The introduction of the Life App provides real-time fatigue measurements and allows users to be their own fatigue manager, even when they are offsite.
SmartCap Technologies founder and CTO Dr. Daniel Bongers elaborated on the advantages of the new product stating “Our product is not tied to the vehicle or plant like fixed/mounted technologies, Life goes where you go. An operator can finish a shift on site, and use Life to help manage their fatigue on the journey home” he said.
“Life measures risk directly from brain activity, it is able to detect progression toward eyes-open microsleeps, which are undetectable by camera technologies.” he said.
Life by SmartCap has the ability to revolutionise fatigue management across a number of industries and most importantly get workers home safe, every day. Anyone interested in finding out more about SmartCap’s new product can head to their website www.smartcaptech.com.