Abstract for: Fatigue dynamics in safety-critical monitoring roles: evidence from the Belgian railway network

In complex safety-critical systems, mental fatigue resulting from high levels of stress or boredom during monitoring tasks may lead to a higher risk of human errors and eventually accidents. However, the estimation and quantification of the operator’s mental workload have been challenging. We present a dynamic model of workload and its interaction with fatigue through time in safety-critical monitoring roles. Using the context and data of the Traffic Controllers (TC) in the Belgian railway network, we analyse the dynamics of mental fatigue overtime. The analysis points to 1) a comfort zone range out of which fatigue accumulates, and 2) a reinforcing mechanism that more fatigue result in narrowing the comfort zone and increasing the rate of fatigue accumulation. Our empirical analysis help the simulation model replicate the data, estimating individuals’ sensitivity to changing workload.