Excessive Overtime Causes Fatigue

I’ve written about the very serious problems caused by employees working too much overtime (OT) several times before — here, here, here, and most recently here.

In the news lately is a story that suggests the Tri-State Oversight Committee (TOC) is finally beginning to acknowledge the issue.  Quote:

“One employee in Metro’s automated train control division said he was “constantly fixing mistakes” made by his colleagues and “attributed the poor work quality,” in part, to fatigue.”


““Unlike [sic] somebody who might be intoxicated, people don’t realize they reach a point where they’re fatigued and their judgment is clouded,” Downey said.”

I’m sure Downey meant to say, “_Like_ somebody who…”.


“In 2004, a train rolled back and hit a parked train at Woodley Park. Some passengers suffered minor injuries. An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board revealed the operator was fatigued and had “likely fallen asleep at the controls.””


“The study revealed that workers in Metro’s automated train control division, which is responsible for inspecting and running the signal system that moves trains, “expressed some of the highest degrees of concern about fatigue.”

The employees said the system’s regular maintenance and the push for repairs were “disproportionate to the available personnel resources,” noting that their department has 212 employees with 30 vacancies as of Sept. 30.”

Needless to say, I hope something comes from this but I’m not holding my breath.

I’ve suggested that one compromise might be to limit consecutive OT shifts to 12 hours, and allow 16 hour shifts followed by no more than a regular 8 hour shift the following day.  So for example, an employee could work 12 hours/day, 7 days/week, or they could work 16/8/16/8/16/8/16.  That would allow either 84 hours/week or 88 hours/week.  That should be enough for all but the greediest OT hounds, while making the system safer for employees and passengers.

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