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Aerospace Medicine Technical Reports

FAA Office of Aerospace Medicine
Civil Aerospace Medical Institute

Report No: DOT/FAA/AM-16/6

Title and Subtitle: Evaluation of Fatigue and Responsibilities of Cargo Supervisors and Flight Mechanic Cargo Supervisors

Report Date: August 2016

Authors: Bryant MR, Nesthus TE, Rowley C

Abstract: In response to an open National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendation (2016; A-15-014) and at the request of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA's) Aircraft Maintenance Division (ASF-300), a study was conducted to document the current rest and fatigue status of cargo load supervisors as well as collect information regarding the perceived responsibilities of load supervisors while performing regular duties.

A total of four organizations agreed to have researchers observe daily cargo operations and recruit participants for each of the three studies:

  1. a general fatigue survey,
  2. a 14-day field study, and
  3. a two-hour interview.

Findings supported previous research on fatigue risk in shift workers and indicated that load supervisors were at risk of fatigue on all seven primary and contributing factors of fatigue: Time of day, Time awake, Time on task, Time asleep, Adequate sleep, Work schedule factors, and Cumulative sleep debt. Night shift load supervisors exhibited a greater risk of fatigue than their day shift counterparts. Interviews revealed that load supervisors perceived a majority of their responsibilities to be shared with cargo personnel, as opposed to holding sole responsibility.

Recommendations include fatigue awareness training, monitoring of load supervisor duty/rest times inclusive of overtime, the use of Safety Management Systems (SMS) and Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS) to reduce risk, and having clearly defined roles and responsibilities for load supervisor duties.

Key Words: Fatigue, Cargo, Responsibilities, Risk Mitigation

No. of Pages: 21

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