Objectives: This study examined daily scores of fatigue and circadian rhythm markers over two-week offshore day shift periods.
Methods: A prospective cohort study among N = 60 offshore day-shift workers working two-week offshore shifts was conducted. Offshore day shifts lasted from 07:00 - 19:00 h. Fatigue was measured objectively with pre- and post-shift scores of the 3-minute psychomotor vigilance tasks (PVT-B) parameters (reaction times, number of lapses, errors and false starts) and subjectively with pre-and post-shift Karolinska Sleepiness Scale (KSS) ratings. Evening saliva samples were collected on offshore days 2,7 and 13 to measure circadian rhythm markers such as dim-light melatonin onset times and cortisol. Generalized and linear mixed model analyses were used to examine daily fatigue scores over time.
Results: Complete data from N = 42 offshore day shift workers was analyzed. Daily parameters of objective fatigue, PVT-B scores (reaction times, average number of lapses, errors and false starts), remained stable over the course of the two-week offshore day shifts. Daily subjective post-shift fatigue scores significantly increased over the course of the two-week offshore shifts. Each day offshore was associated with an increased post-shift subjective fatigue score of 0.06 points (95%CI:.03-.09 p <.001). No significant statistical differences in subjective pre-shift fatigue scores were found. Neither a circadian rhythm phase shift of melatonin nor an effect on the pattern and levels of evening cortisol was found.
Conclusion: Daily parameters of objective fatigue scores remained stable over the course of the two-week offshore day shifts. Daily subjective post-shift fatigue scores significantly increased over the course of the two-week offshore shifts. No significant changes in circadian rhythm markers were found. Increased post-shift fatigue scores, especially during the last days of an offshore shift, should be considered and managed in (offshore) fatigue risk management programs and fatigue risk prediction models.