Minerals Industry Safety & Health Centre (MISHC), University of Queensland – January 2005

This project, funded by the New South Wales Coal Services Health and Safety Trust, was designed to develop and apply a model to examine work breaks and rest periods in mining operations that leads to ensuring the benefits associated with work breaks are optimised. It complements much of the work that has been completed in examining shift rosters.

A targeted literature review was performed based on information collected from a wide variety of sources. Despite the concerns expressed about the effect of fatigue and rest on the rate of production and safety, scientific research on this topic has generally only proposed breaks schedules for very specific, repetitive tasks or practitioners have resorted to general statements about the desirability of rest periods. As such this previous work cannot be directly applied to determine optimal rest patterns in the majority of mining tasks.

The objective of the original proposal was to ascertain how quantity of work, quality of work and subjective fatigue alter with time on task and scheduling and length of breaks and to develop guidelines for determining the most appropriate break patterns. This objective was significantly modified based on the findings of the literature review and initial data collection.

The original four stages proposed for the project were refined and partially modified during the project.