A study aims to help organisations minimise tiredness-related incidents among shift workers by developing a fatigue detection tool to identify symptoms that could create health and safety risks.
Mental health technology startup Thymia has been awarded £50,000 in government funding to develop and test its AI-powered fatigue detection tool, starting with a trial involving 1,000 UK shift workers.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, fatigue-related incidents cost the UK economy £115-240bn annually. Chronic fatigue is associated with increased risk of injury and decreased work performance, and shift work can have significantly negative effects on sleep.
Earlier this year, a survey found more than two-thirds of UK shift workers felt the hours they work or the pattern of their roster has affected their health, while a recent US study found that eating within a set timeframe can help improve health outcomes among those who work night shifts.
Between now and December, Thymia will gather data from shift workers across the UK and train its AI tool to identify symptoms of fatigue.
Shift workers’ health
It will monitor participants’ sleep cycles using questionnaires and specially designed video games that will test their reactions and short-term memory.
The games will require participants to describe animated scenes, read texts and complete memory tests. Thymia will record the pitch, volume, speed and content of what they say, as well monitor their reaction times.
Thymia claims that once the fatigue detection tool becomes widely available, employers will be able to assess tiredness across their workforce using one minute of speech data recorded using a smart device.
If the platform detects fatigue, employers will be able to intervene by asking tired workers to take rest breaks or naps, or change shift scheduling, to ensure health and safety risks are minimised.
Dr Emilia Molimpakis, CEO and co-founder of Thymia, said: “Early fatigue detection is essential if we’re to intervene quickly and mitigate the potential risks of chronic fatigue on an individual’s health. A staggering 20% of accidents on major roads are linked to fatigue, not to mention the millions of other incidents that occur in safety-critical industries due to staff fatigue.
“Through this project, our aim is to develop a world-first tool that can quickly and reliably detect fatigue in shift workers. We want to directly relieve the pressure fatigue-related incidents place on businesses and the NHS, by providing employers with an engaging and reliable tool that they can use to spot fatigue early and protect staff.”