Fatigue Management For Ramp Workers

April 3, 2012
Ramp operations are, unfortunately, on the bottom of the aviation safety totem pole.

There’s not going to be a duty time rule for ramp workers any time soon. Pilot flight and duty time rules took three years from the crash of Colgan in Buffalo in February of 2009 to finally get promulgated – and fatigue may well have played a role in the errors by the crew that fateful night. Duty time rules for mechanics have stalled completely. So, in the aviation scheme of things ramp operations are unfortunately on the bottom of the aviation safety totem pole.

And I do mean “unfortunately.” Ramp operations can have a direct impact on safety and fatigue in ramp workers can cause human errors just as fatigue in the cockpit or on the hangar floor can. More and more, however, the issue of human factors is focused on fatigue management. And a large part of that focus is on training workers to avoid their own fatigue and to recognize and mitigate it before it causes problems.

So while we can’t expect a duty time rule for ramp workers any time soon – or ever – we can certainly make them aware of the relationship between fatigue and mistakes. And give them time before or after work to review fatigue training countermeasures prepared by the FAA. While focused on maintenance workers, the training is valuable for all employees. And best of all, it’s well done and it’s free.

A link to the training can be found at: https://hfskyway.faa.gov/Fatigue/Flash/FatigueFlash.swf.

About the Author

John Goglia

John Goglia has 40+ years experience in the aviation industry. He was the first NTSB member to hold an FAA aircraft mechanic's certificate. He can be reached at [email protected].

John Goglia is an independent aviation safety consultant and Adjunct Professor at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology and regular monthly columnist for four aviation trade publications. He was an airline mechanic for more than 30 years. He has co-authored two text books (Safety Management Systems in Aviation, Ashgate Publishing 2009 and Implementation of Safety Management Systems in Aviation, Ashgate Publishing 2011).