Shift Patterns Affect Sleep Health for Oil and Gas Offshore Workers

This study explored fatigue levels of workers on swing shifts, where they work day shifts for the first week and roll over to night shifts for the second week.

Overworked employee sleeping in factory during night shift.
Source: Smederevac/Getty Images

The objectives of the study were to explore fatigue levels for workers on swing shifts, where they work day shifts for the first week and roll over to night shifts for the second week, compared with regular shifts; sleep health when workers were off work onshore compared with their time offshore; and the effects of fatigue on performance. The study also identified some of the factors that may cause feelings of fatigue.

Mixed-method, self-report surveys collected data on sleep hygiene, sleep health, and fatigue. Three semistructured interviews were conducted with the workers who were on swing shifts to help understand the effects of fatigue with three offshore workers. A number of statistical tests and qualitative analysis were carried out.

Results obtained from the survey showed experiences of mild fatigue levels and mild severity of fatigue across the workforce. Interviews revealed that workers on swing shifts experienced higher levels of fatigue, which affected their performance through poorer communication, attention, reaction time, and motivation. It was also found that fatigue negatively affected physical functioning and ability to carry out duties and responsibilities. Importantly, sleep health scores in swing shift workers were significantly worse when they were offshore compared with onshore. Such finding was not observed in workers who operated on regular shifts. Factors such as sleep health, sleep quality, and energy levels negatively correlated with self-reported fatigue levels.

In general, present findings supported previous literature that found that swing shifts may have caused or increased fatigue levels because of the adaptation process to a different wake/sleep cycle that took days. It was found that swing shift operators experienced worse sleep health when they were offshore compared with onshore. This study identified some of the possible sources and effects of fatigue that can directly inform interventions in terms of subjects for focus.

SPE members can download the complete paper from SPE’s Health, Safety, Environment, and Sustainability Technical Discipline page for free from 14 to 27 March.

Find paper SPE 215535 on OnePetro here.