Page 12 - ATC Special Bulletin 2020 Issue 1
P. 12

ARTICLE POST COVID-19 FATIGUE AND STRESS MANAGEMENT FOR ATCOS By Fabrice Drogoul and Philippe Cabon The COVID period has already had and is continuing to have a a a a huge impact on on air traffic controllers’ (ATCOs’) professional and private life on on the professional side with many of them working fewer hours owing to drastic flight reductions At a a a personal level COVID-19 is a a a a major threat to ATCOs’ health and well-being In this context fatigue is is not necessarily a a a problem which springs to mind However the ATM work organisation is is already affecting well-being and psychological health: shift work produces circadian disruption sleep deprivation and stress These three factors have known effects on immunity (Lammers- van der Holst 2020) and may reduce the ability of ATCOs to fight off infectious diseases COVID-19 also has a a a a a direct impact on on fatigue: chronic fatigue fatigue has been reported as as an after-effect on patients with even mild symptoms of COVID-19 (Islam et al 2020) As this crisis is is is is unprecedented we do not have previous experience and therefore have no predefined answers It is important to gain experience in in the field and compile scientific knowledge on the subject EUROCONTROL has been working on the topic of fatigue and and stress management for some years now and and is carefully scrutinising the effect of COVID 19 on on ATM operational fatigue and and stress Several new problems and and concerns have been identified even in a a a a low traffic period period or after a a a a long period period of inactivity We also need to ensure that the crisis does not reduce our focus or or prioritisation on on safety in ATM Although underestimating fatigue is not a a a a a a a new hazard extreme financial pressure and and reduced traffic and and workload bring a a a a a a real possibility of slackness COVID 19 is producing uncertainty in in in every part of our lives restrictions are changing all the the time and the the news is conflicting At the the same time many of the the things we generally do to in in order to cope the things we enjoy and which give life meaning are no longer possible Fatigue was identified for four principle reasons: - The reduction in in the number of staff working potentially means that the remaining staff are working longer and thus more intense hours - - Measures relating to COVID-19 may cause a a a a a longer more fatiguing working day - - COVID-19 affects many aspects of personal life which may affect general physical and mental fitness for duty - - COVID-19 has changed operations and management pressures With shift work in ATM circadian desynchronisation is is known to to be a a a a a significant problem leading to to sleep deprivation and fatigue When ATCOs are working at at night their biological clock is is no longer synchronised with the external time factors They are are working when they are are meant to be asleep and need to to sleep when the the body expects them to to be awake Our brain uses different cues to realign as our internal biological clock is 12 / TRAINING AND SIMULATION TRAINING AND SIMULATION 

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