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Night work, seasons, and sleepiness as occupational safety hazards in the Northern Areas (NORALERT)

The project investigates the impact of seasonal factors on employees working night shifts in the Northern Areas, with particular focus on sleepiness and the risk of safety incidents.

Data from the Petroleum Safety Authority in Norway (PSA) indicate a generally high safety level in the industry. However, recent years have seen rising numbers of safety incidents with potential to develop into major accidents at onshore installations.

The overarching aim of the project is to reduce the risk level for safety incidents in the Norwegian petroleum industry.

– Several risk factors exist, and in this project we will gather new knowledge on potential risks specifically linked to night work in the Northern area (71 degrees North), says STAMI-researchers Fred Haugen and Dagfinn Matre, who initiated the project.

Seasonal variations

The researchers will measure seasonal variations in light, cold exposure, and sleep among shift-working petroleum workers in the Northern area. Then they will map the relationship between these exposures and indicators of sleepiness and circadian rhythm disturbances.

Furthermore, the researchers will test and expand a bio-mathematical models of sleep regulation in the brain, with the objective of developing a tool to predict sleepiness during work in environments with significant seasonal variations in light and temperature.

Daily measurements of subjective and objective sleepiness, sleep patterns and sleep habits, being cold at work will be taken both during the winter and the summer, to obtain data on seasonal differences.

Mathematical modelling

Using mathematical models, we will determine whether sleepiness at work can be predicted based on work schedule and the working environmental factors that characterize the Northern Areas.

The novelty of the project lies in combining measurements in a natural working environment with mathematical modelling. We expect to improve existing models so they can be used to design work schedules that optimize sleep and minimize the risk of safety incidents.

NORALERT is part of ICELAB, STAMI’s strategic research initiative on cold working environments and occupational health.


PROJECT GROUP: Kathrine Holm, Dagfinn Matre, Anne-Mari Gjestvang Moe, Tiril Schjølberg, Mina Baarnes Eriksen, Line Victoria Moen and Andreas Holme