News

Energy members attend seminar on stress and fatigue

5 July 2022

More than a dozen Prospect members working across the energy sector attended a special seminar on fatigue and stress at New Prospect House in May.

As well as hearing from expert speakers, there were also two group breakout sessions and a panel discussion.

Speakers at the seminar included:

Chris Warburton, Prospect health and safety officer, who spoke about the work Prospect has undertaken at a national level, including the results of a recent survey of energy sector members.

Karina Murrell of Prospect’s Metropolitan Police branch, who talked about the work she and her branch has undertaken to address stress among forensic service staff. This involved conducting a Management Standards survey and using the results to bargain with the employer, which has led to a new wellbeing strategy and arrangements to manage workload.

Dr Stefi McMaster, a post-doctoral researcher at the Centre for Human Factors, University of Hull, who set out a holistic approach to managing fatigue and outlined the work that the Centre for Human Factors has undertaken in the issue of fatigue in the renewables industry.

Breakout sessions

In the first breakout session, attendees were asked to identify the factors causing fatigue and stress and the barriers preventing them being appropriately managed.

They identified factors such as:

  • Workload
  • Short staffing
  • Lead times to train new staff
  • Ofgem/NDA/ONR targets
  • External work factors such as cost-of-living, family and health

Barriers included:

  • Financial incentives to work long hours
  • Peer pressure
  • Poor management support/recognition
  • Poor company culture
  • Insufficient competence within companies to address the issue

Then, in the second session, they were asked to consider how those barriers could be addressed and overcome.

Their solutions included:

  • Encourage openness among staff
  • Providing better access to support services, such as occupational health
  • Better engagement with key teams within an organisation
  • Approaching management with concrete suggestions based on best practice in other industries

Panel discussion

The panel discussion featured questions from the floor about how best to overcome barriers and culture to tackle fatigue and stress. The panel included:

  • Mike MacDonald, Prospect negotiations officer
  • Peter Vujanic, head of safety, health and environment – distribution, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks
  • Dr Stefi McMaster.

Reflecting on the day’s events, Chris Warburton said:

“It is always valuable to bring our members and reps together to discuss critical issues, such as stress and fatigue, which unfortunately are prevalent and keenly felt across practically all companies and organisations in the energy sector.

“This seminar was an opportunity to explore the issues, share ideas and pool best practices from across the industry. It will hopefully lead to improvements in many workplaces but is also a reminder that no single individual, or branch, has to tackle these problems alone.”


Energy

From generation to transmission, Prospect represents the interests of over 22,000 members working across all parts of the energy sector.