Lead researcher:  Professor Jillian Dorrian

The Project

Sleep loss and fatigue are hazards in forestry that can lead to decreased productivity and incidents and accidents. This study examined Fatigue Management (FM) approaches in forestry in Australia, with an emphasis on the Green Triangle (GT).

Our Research Approach
  • 23 interviews exploring FM at individual and systems levels
  • 104 surveys about work, sleep, health, and coping strategies
  • 111 truck crashes in the Vic portion of the GT 2011-2021
  • 97 months of data for 19 companies on transport volume and rollovers
  • >2,500 shifts with work hours, product volume indicators and fuel use over a year
  • >2130 shifts across >100 rosters. Policy documents and public websites assessed against FM indicators
Our Findings
  • Sources of fatigue included early starts, long and consecutive shifts, and rotating between shift types. Fatigue was exacerbated by working outdoors in the
    heat, wind, on slopes, or near power lines
  • The fire season was identified as a time when fatigue guidelines were most needed
  • Driving was identified as the #1 risk time
  • Half of Timber Truck crashes in the Vic GT occurred at night (18% for other industries). Most were in 100 km/h speed zones. ~70% run-off-road - 33% from a curve, 26% from a straight
  • These crash characteristics are hallmarks of fatigue
  • Technological innovations for FM support included fatigue management apps, electronic logbooks, wearables, electronic dispatch, geofencing, cloudbased updateable maps, fatigue and distraction monitoring, data feeds, dashboards, and databases
  • Tech support for FM is a clear R&D opportunity
  • Protective factors included a just safety culture at work, reinforced by family and community, where people feel safe to disclose when they are fatigued
  • There was a preference for a move away from rotating rosters to support the ability to plan ahead. Flexible processes to facilitate rest time and reduce perceived time pressure were valued
  • Perceived schedule regularity and predictability were associated with improved perception of how well the organisation manages fatigue as well as reduced sleep problems, health symptoms, and work-life disturbance
  • Safety culture and work design are critical
  • Results identified continual improvement metrics, to help forestry organisations to measure and assess their approaches to managing fatigue risks
  • Fatigue monitoring, incident evaluation, and audit, were identified as key growth areas for FM


Project Deliverables

Full report: Dorrian J, Agostini A, Hadlum B, Chandrakumar D, O’Hehir J, Chow C, Rameezdeen R, Coates A, Dawson D, Ahn J (2023). Development of Best-Practice Fatigue Management for the Australian Forestry Industry. National Institute for Forest Products Innovation (NIFPI) Mount Gambier Centre, Project NIF122-1920 [NS052], ISBN: 978-1-922718-25-9

For further information or to request a copy of the report and project summary flyer:

Jillian Dorrian
Professor of Psychology, University of South Australia,
UniSA Justice and Society, jill.dorrian@unisa.edu.au