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Mental fatigue, cognitive bias and safety paradox in chinese coal mines

Haimiao Yu, Hong Chen and Ruyin Long

Resources Policy, 2017, vol. 52, issue C, 165-172

Abstract: Many researchers have confirmed that most accidents occur during night shifts, but coal mine production in China is an exception. The frequency of accidents during day shifts is significantly higher than that of night shifts. We refer to this as a safety paradox. This study collected 1870 instances of the worst fatal accidents in Chinese coal mines from 2002 to 2013, which in total accounted for the deaths of 13,477 miners. We mainly employed frequency analysis to describe the imbalance in accident risks between day shifts and night shifts. Then we deployed a reaction time test and “psychometric fatigue assessment scale” to measure the differences in mental fatigue between day-shift and night-shift workers. In further, we analyzed the supervision records of the coal mines and found that the level of supervision was more intensive during night shifts. Based on these analyses, we put forward "the pendulum effect of mental fatigue" as an explanation for the safety paradox experienced in Chinese coal mines. Lastly, we suggest possible solutions that coal mine managers and the government policy-makers could undertake.

Keywords: Mental fatigue; Cognitive bias; Pendulum effect; Shift work; Rest-time gap (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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