PSA: THE BIGGER PICTURE
GETTING TIRED OF ALL THIS SLEEP TALKING PSA’s Andy Lenthall examines the importance of sleep on the road as well as safety and wellbeing.
I’d venture to argue that we do safety pretty well. Whatever gave rise to the vast leaps in understanding of legislation, standards and best practice, we hope that we played a small part. When tragedy strikes, it’s kind of upsetting that we’re really good at analysing what should have been done when it wasn’t done in the first place; the power of hindsight. Something that doesn’t often come into the frame when incidents are investigated is fatigue, which is odd because punishing schedules and long days are hot topics of discussion. In last month’s column, we reported on the discussion at the ILMC Production day. This month at the Prolight + Sound exhibition, the safety conference day included yours truly in a panel discussion entitled ‘Nobody Should Be Proud to Work a 12 Hour Day’. “12 hours?” I hear you say, “bloody part timers”. In a way, you’d be correct in your assertion. Back in 2013 the then PSA Chairman, James Cobb, conducted research into fatigue and its effect on accident rates in live production, statistically valid results revealed that, on average people’s working day is over 14 hours. He also found that on average people on tours/event sites are usually getting a little over five hours sleep as an average over the working period and nearly one in five are usually getting less than four hours over the working period. If that sounds familiar, we have a problem.
Research itself is not without its issues. Two studies that we’re aware of have been met with rather aggressive responses claiming that research will only lead to regulation, removing their rights to dictate their own working pattern. A recent article published by the BBC entitled Sleep Myths ‘Damaging Your Health’ stated that New York University researchers said the belief that less than five hours’ shut-eye was healthy, was one of the most damaging myths to health. The classic alcoholic beverage to help you sleep was another issue tackled. It may feel like it helps you get to sleep, but the benefits are lost by its effects on sleep quality. A quick online search reveals far better techniques for shutting the brain down before sleep, swing by www.rocknrollyogi.com for some tips from Becky Pell, one of your own, a highly experienced touring monitor engineer who happens to know rather a lot about yoga and relaxation. Of course, it’s not just about your own health; lack of sleep can cause serious issues in the workplace. Looking back at James Cobb’s research, the correlation between fatigue and accidents was striking. Getting six hours sleep over two weeks equates to feeling like you’ve been awake for 24 hours. Anyone who’s been awake for 18 hours has their cognitive function effects similar to being over the drink drive limit. Would you want to work with people over the drink drive limit? You’re not just risking personal injury, 98