Spot­light on sleep and safety link

Great Southern Herald - - News - Shan­non Smith

Na­tional Sleep Aware­ness Week this week raises the im­por­tance of sleep for phys­i­cal and men­tal health, and the Depart­ment of Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices has taken the op­por­tu­nity to spread the word about fa­tigue man­age­ment.

The DFES sees first­hand how fa­tigue can cause ac­ci­dents and af­fects its mem­bers — night shifts and stress­ful sit­u­a­tions are com­mon dur­ing emer­gency re­sponse.

DFES area of­fi­cer for Al­bany West Tim Wall said the or­gan­i­sa­tion used the week to teach staff help­ful tech­niques and bet­ter sleep habits.

“One thing we do is push fa­tigue man­age­ment within our own or­gan­i­sa­tion,” he said.

“Some in­ci­dents that do hap­pen, whether it is a car ac­ci­dent or not, are be­cause peo­ple are fa­tigued and aren’t see­ing their warn­ing signs.”

He said lack of sleep could be just as dan­ger­ous as driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol and may re­sult in poor judg­ment, work­place ac­ci­dents and men­tal health is­sues.

“In to­day’s so­ci­ety we are very busy and I don’t think we are iden­ti­fy­ing the need for sleep,” Mr Wall said.

Many may be obliv­i­ous to the fact their bodies need to rest, and Mr Wall said es­pe­cially when driv­ing long dis­tances, such as to Perth, peo­ple should take breaks.

“Fa­tigue is like driv­ing through that mo­tion where you haven’t re­alised that you have driven the last 10km be­cause you are in that zone,” he said.

“If you don’t take breaks when you are driv­ing and you do drive tired, your worst night­mare of hav­ing an ac­ci­dent could come true.”

This is the first time the DFES has taken part in Na­tional Sleep Aware­ness Week and it en­cour­ages all work­places to make sure they have a good fa­tigue man­age­ment scheme in place.

Al­bany Sleep Clinic owner Vicki Ron­ayne vis­ited the Al­bany DFES on Tues­day to speak to staff and said many con­di­tions could af­fect sleep and should not be ig­nored.

“Stress, sleep ap­noea, med­i­cal con­di­tions, both phys­i­cal and men­tal — there are many con­tribut­ing fac­tors,” she said.

“Sleep ap­noea does not dis­crim­i­nate be­tween gen­der, age or, nec­es­sar­ily, weight.

“It can be detri­men­tal to your health, work, life­style and safety.”

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