Drs. Omer Ahmed and Indira Gurubhagavatula recently attended the Working Hours, Sleep and Fatigue Forum on Sept. 13-14, 2019, in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, as representatives of the AASM Public Safety Committee. Erin Flynn-Evans, PhD, who is also a member of the committee, was one of the keynote speakers, presenting to an enthusiastic audience her work in sleep deprivation among employees in the aviation and aerospace industries. A keynote address on the burden, impact and role of sleep and fatigue due to work hours was provided by Dr. John Howard, director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the administrator of the World Trade Center Health Program.

The forum was organized by NIOSH and supported by the Working Time Society.  Attendees and speakers spanned a wide range of backgrounds, including the NIOSH, the American Nurses Association, the National Safety Council, Washington State University, and Wayne State University. They shared a common interest in education, research, policy, advocacy and intervention to address the performance, health and safety effects of fatigue that results from work schedules. The forum program included a series of workshops in key occupational areas, including transportation, public safety, agriculture, forestry and fishing, oil and gas extraction, vulnerable populations, mining, and health care and social assistance.

The AASM representatives participated actively in the discussions related to the health care, transportation and public safety sectors. They contributed content expertise in assessing the current burden, need and impact of working hours and fatigue; identifying key gaps in scientific knowledge; exploring emerging concerns related to fatigue-related risks; and refining industry-specific take-home messages pertaining to fatigue-related risk and its management.

Participants also identified areas in which the AASM Public Safety Committee representatives can partner with policy and advocacy experts from NIOSH in disseminating information to relevant stakeholders. Attendees found the experience to be educational and rewarding.

Learn more about AASM committees.

By Indira Gurubhagavatula, MD