Episode 70 – Kirsty McCulloch | Sleep, Fatigue & Human Factors

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In this episode I chat with Kirsty McCulloch all about sleep, fatigue and human factors. She literally wakes companies up, and helps employees get enough sleep and arrive at work full of energy to start the day.

Kirsty is a world expert in fatigue risk management. She has worked as an academic, written regulation in several industries, danced through industrial work hour negotiations. She has history with all modes of transportation, oil and gas, mining, military, energy, construction, IT and public service sectors. Kirsty excels at applying scientific methods to develop practical solutions to improve safety, productivity & overall employee wellness.

We discuss sleep and the impact of not getting enough of it – both personally and from a company standpoint.
Sleep has a huge impact on company revenue, on safety and on overall health.
Human factors is another area we delve into – understanding that we all make mistakes and we’re all programmed to be lazy, to conserve energy and do things in the easiest way possible.

Key highlights from this episode include:

  • Managing fatigue is about engaging your workforce about what it means to be ‘fit for work’
  • It’s not just about telling people to sleep, it’s about relearning how to sleep
  • How do we create a system that makes it easy to succeed?
  • When you’ve been awake for 18 hours, your performance is comparable to having a BAC of 0.05, whereas being awake for 24 hours is comparable to a 0.1 BAC.
  • We aren’t taught about the importance of sleep in our overall health picture – we learn about movement and food pyramids but miss that key piece of our wellbeing

And we’ll finish up by including some top sleep tips:

  • Sleep in a dark, quiet room
  • Remove all technology – turn off your phone at least half an hour before going to bed, don’t fall asleep in front of the tv
  • Avoid caffeine within 4 hours of bed
  • Avoid alcohol and sleeping tablets
  • Train your brain to fall asleep by using ambient music. 

If you’d like to connect further with Kirsty you can find her on LinkedIn, and also make sure to check out her app, Awaken Fatigue.

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Murray Guest  00:02

Hey, Kirsty, welcome to the podcast. I’m so looking forward to catching up with you. How have you been? 


Kirsty McCulloch  00:07

Yeah, great. Thanks, Murray. How are you? 


Murray Guest  00:10

I’m doing really well. I’m actually in a place of gratitude and renewed perspective after these past few months, certainly, it’s been a challenge for lots of people. And you and I were quickly talking before we started our chat about, you know, what’s been going on in the world. But I feel like I’ve got a renewed perspective on some of those little things in life. And I’m really loving the clients I’m working with at the moment, what have you been up to?


Kirsty McCulloch  00:37

So the whole COVID situation has been different for me. So I’ve got two very young children. So originally, up front, of course, I had a lot more contact with them than I’m used to, which put a whole lot of different perspective on what’s important, where I’m spending my time. And it also may be quieter with work as well. So changed my perspectives on that. So that’s been quite liberating to be able to explore that and what that means for me. And coming out the other side of it, what does that look like now to that getting busier again, which is great.


Murray Guest  01:08

Yeah, it is a funny time right now, where there’s, you know, different countries in lockdown, different requirements for things we can and can’t do. I also think the appetite for learning has been changed quite a bit around online learning, and what that looks like going forward. And in your space, around risk management and human factors. Oh, wow. There’s just so much we could talk about to do with that right now.


Kirsty McCulloch  01:34

Yeah, it’s huge. And companies perspectives on it is changing weekly. Which is great, with increased focus on individuals especially.


Murray Guest  01:42

So we’re going to get into this conversation about fatigue risk management and human factors and those things that I know you for, that you’re so passionate about. But what I’d love to know is how did you get to be in this field in the first place?


Kirsty McCulloch  01:57

It was something that I fell into. So I studied psychology at university, I finished high school and saw Silence of the Lambs and thought, gee, that’s a cool movie. And I’d love to be like Jodie Foster and, you know, talk to some criminals and understand what how they became criminals and get into all that stuff. This is way before CSI became really hot or anything like that.


Murray Guest  02:19

Can I just say there’s only two movies that have given me nightmares and one of them is Silence of the Lambs. 


Kirsty McCulloch  02:23

So what was the other one? 


Murray Guest  02:25

It was Cape Fear with Robert De Niro. And it was a remake. And he was stalking this family. It was just yeah, put me on edge.


Kirsty McCulloch  02:33

Yeah, Silence of the Lambs and Misery for me. Anyway, so wanted to be a forensic psychologist. And then as I finished my degree, two things happened, one is that I realized we didn’t have that many serial killers in Australia to make a huge career out of. And two, I was a bit of a speedster in my youth. So I had too many speeding finds to get into the police force, which was the only really way to kickstart a career in forensics. So I thought, well, I need to find something else. Luckily, I had really good grades. So I got offered a scholarship to study sleep. And I thought, well, what else am I going to do, I don’t want to be a clinical psychologist, that much was clear. And so I went and studied sleep in a sleep laboratory, literally wiring people up and watching them sleep and what happens when they do sleep, and what happens when they don’t sleep. Did some alcohol comparison studies, which were quite interesting seeing what happens when people get drunk compared to tired and that was fun. But it wasn’t where my passion was. So I said to my professor at the time, you know, I really, really love doing this, but I don’t want to make a career out of it. So see you later. And I’m going to explore other options. And he said, Well, how about we get you out to industry. And so he got me into aviation, and looking at pilots and what happens to them in the real world setting when they get tired, what sort of mistakes they make. So I got to go up in, you know, big airliners, looking at actual mistakes that people were making that were quite frightening. Got to go up on hot air balloons, who you know, get up at the crack of dawn to get these balloons ready for pre dawn flights. And what sort of mistakes do they actually make and, you know, fueling errors and stuff that’s happening. And that’s, that’s life or death situation. So that was exciting to be out in. And something I could see I could make a real difference in. So that’s how I got passionate about fatigue and launched my career into what sort of mistakes that people make when they’re tired. And then Human Factors more generally, what sort of mistakes that people make in the workforce and how can we stop them?


Murray Guest  04:32

Can I ask when you got into that work, did it change your perspective around risk and what you would do and not do in life?


Kirsty McCulloch  04:40

It certainly made me commit to getting a good night’s sleep. I am an early to bed and early to rise kind of girl where I prioritize sleep over everything else probably.


Murray Guest  04:49

Yeah, I admit I’m older than you, I know that, and I’m also later to learning about the benefits of sleep and I totally, totally, you can see the difference it’s made in my life. And it’s interesting. I remember still being at the gym a couple years ago, and there’s a guy that had this body that I was like, Hey, I wanna look like you mate. And I said, so what do I need to do, what tips would you give me? And one of the key things he said to me is make sure you get your sleep. It was sleep, stretch, and eat appropriately. There was no exercise. It was all about sleep.


Kirsty McCulloch  05:23

Yeah, right. Yeah, we’re just not taught about sleep when we grow up. We were told all about what to eat. We know about the food pyramid. We’re taught about exercise, of course, because we were forced to do that, I hated exercise at school. I love it now but hated at school. So forced to do all this stuff. And we know all about that. But we don’t get taught about sleep at school. 


Murray Guest  05:42

Mmm true. No, no, you’re right. And also, I would have never had a conversation with my parents, I don’t think most people do, about sleep. It’s like go to bed. And that’s it type of thing. And, and even not, how do you get to sleep when you go to bed, either. You did mention over the years, you’ve seen some interesting, I guess, errors people have made. Early on, when you saw those, what type of errors did you see that you’re okay to share, that you went, oh wow, this is just something that needs looking at.


Kirsty McCulloch  06:14

So simple things like putting in the wrong altitude, missing a decimal place off of an altitude on an aircraft, and so they’re flying, you know, magnitudes lower or higher than what they’re expecting. And I saw practices in truck drivers where truck drivers would literally put Velcro on the back of their hats, and align it with a piece of velcro on the back of their seat so that their heads would stay upright when they fall asleep when they’re driving. So I’ve seen some pretty, pretty interesting solutions to to get around the sleep issue too.


Murray Guest  06:52

And over the years, you’ve worked in a range of different areas. And in different industries. What’s been the impact when people start to have a greater awareness around sleep? What like, you and I can talk from a personal level, but what does it really mean when there’s this focus on sleep?


Kirsty McCulloch  07:13

Yeah, it’s interesting. One of my first experiences, I was working with a company that had a whole lot of typically ego driven professions involved, so talking doctors, we’re talking pilots, and nurses as well. And there are a lot of egos. There’s a lot of clashes within this culture. And all of a sudden, we implemented a fatigue procedure, which made them look at, start to look out for each other. This was way before Are you okay, and stuff was in place. But it made them start to look at each other, and if they were tired, which they always were, because let’s face it, doctors and pilots and nurses work around the clock and they live to serve their profession, they started asking each other, Are you too tired to do this? Or, you look tired, how are you feeling? Can I help in any way? What sort of controls should we put in place? We started to implement that Are You OK culture and started to actually open them up a lot more. And that was one of my first real wins. And in this job, in this profession, to say, we can really change cultures by getting people to look out for each other more and actually looking out for the core values of you know, are you getting enough sleep? And why not? And what impact is it having not only on your health, but on the health of everyone that you’re serving as well?


Murray Guest  08:30

Yeah, and I think about when someone’s asking that question of a peer or a team member, or someone that they they are leading, it’s creating trust, it’s creating vulnerability, it’s creating connection. It’s creating all these elements of an engaged culture. When you see that sort of start to happen, and you’re starting to see that sort of play out, how do you think it, you know, stays in place? Because obviously, in our world, consultants, we have our part to play and quite often we’re not there to see it to fruition. How does it continue do you reckon?


Kirsty McCulloch  09:09

So I’ve seen a lot of companies that I’ve worked with, and everyone’s gotten very excited after the training that you rollout, everyone’s like, yeah, I’m gonna make these changes. And I’m going to roll it out to my kids and my husband, and we’re going to sleep really, really well. And they write these awesome policies and procedures, and some of them way too long, some of them some are not long at all. And they sit on shelves and they collect dust just like many other safety systems. So you’re right, a lot of a lot of companies do this stuff, get a lot of energy around it, and then they just don’t sustain it. And it’s only the companies that I’ve seen that have established well being programs where they, where they actually have this programmed in on an annual basis to talk about. Doesn’t have to be with a consultant, but they just have an awareness period every month where they’re talking about fatigue and other wellness issues. Just to maintain a sense of focus, so they revisit it and they might send out new resources. Like there’s some, there’s some really good web based talks and some really good free resources that they can share around. So just having that systemized scheduled process to maintain that works really well.


Murray Guest  10:19

Yeah. And I know that you’ve worked not just in heavy industry, and not just, you know, aviation or construction, when we talk about sleep, who does it not apply to?!


Kirsty McCulloch  10:33

Absolutely everyone. And increasingly, so actually, all of my jobs at the moment are white collar workers. And more and more so for their families as well, because companies are realizing that if families are not working harmoniously behind the background, it’s impacting on their workers.


Murray Guest  10:52

I still remember I was working with a site a few years back, and there was a number of guys that had young children or babies basically, and they were having trouble sleeping, and they were turning up each day overtired. And then with that over-tiredness, this also became grumpiness with fellow teammates, and we did a toolbox talk on how to get your children to sleep. Here’s some ways to help with that. And I still remember the impact that made because I think you’re so spot on, it’s not just about that individual. And, to be honest, even COVID-19, these past few months, has shown or highlighted that people have lives that are much more complex than just you know, home and work. There’s all these other elements.


Kirsty McCulloch  11:36

Even things as simple as teaching people how to sleep. So many people say they can’t sleep, or they don’t know how to sleep, or they just for whatever reason won’t sleep. And teaching people the importance of it and telling them how to and helping them to get around the obstacles that might be blocking them has a huge impact on company revenue and safety and on overall health as well.


Murray Guest  11:59

And that presenteeism so showing up for work, and that you doesn’t matter what your job is, I can imagine that you are there physically, mentally, emotionally to do the work ahead of you.


Kirsty McCulloch  12:11

Yeah, we’ve all experienced that, haven’t we, staring at the computer screen and nothing comes out. And you think, oh god what did I do today. And that’s growing increasingly in awareness in companies too.


Murray Guest  12:20

So if there was your top sleep tips, so if I can imagine if you’re at a barbecue, and someone says, what do you do? And you said, sleep. And they’re like, so tell me what are the best tips? What do you tell people?


Kirsty McCulloch  12:31

So dark, quiet room, make sure your room is as dark and as quiet as possible. And turn off your phone within half an hour of going to bed and don’t fall asleep in front of the TV. So remove all technology within half an hour of going to bed. Because that completely changes your sleep structure. Avoid caffeine within four hours of bed. Even if you can fall asleep with caffeine in your system, that shot of coffee before you go to bed. It still has a huge impact on your sleep. And so does alcohol and even sleeping tablets, they have a huge impact on sleep quality too, so avoid them as much as possible. They’d be the top four.


Murray Guest  13:05

Can I add one that worked well for me?


Kirsty McCulloch  13:07

Go for it. Are you going to say sex? 


Murray Guest  13:12

Well, yes, I think sex is good for lots of reasons. Of course. 


Kirsty McCulloch  13:18

It does help you fall asleep. 


Murray Guest  13:19

It does help you fall asleep. It’s good for immunity, for connection. You know, a whole range of things. It’s actually music. I’m a big advocate for using, Insight Timer is the app that I use, and it plays, I use different sleep music. So not guided visualizations, but just some music. And I reckon I’ve even trained my brain when I hear certain music, I’ll just switch off and get into some really good deep sleep.


Kirsty McCulloch  13:47

Yeah, that works tremendously well. Especially for using sleep based music and not the nightclub style music. We know with kids as well, you can train kids to fall asleep to a certain song. So your brain reacts to all these triggers. If you use it routinely, you can train your brain to hear something and hear a tune a song or a type of tune or song. And your brain automatically knows right it’s sleep time. So of course, that’s what it’s gonna do.


Murray Guest  14:13

It’s interesting, because when I had my accident, so about 18 months ago, and I was in hospital in the neck brace and I would listen to some tracks to help me really sort of tune out and deal with, you know, all the bits that were going on then. I accidentally put one of those ones on a couple of months ago. And I felt this recoil in my body of like, No, not that song, not that song! Yeah, that’s not the one I needed. Because I’d still, you know, train my brain back to those moments. My youngest, who’s 11 he does listen to rain sounds every night before he goes to sleep, and that helps him fall asleep. And I think if you’re a parent and having trouble with children, I think that’s a real you know, there’s ambient music and different music out there that’s all free that can really help to get them to relax and just train their brain. 


Kirsty McCulloch  15:00

Yeah, yeah, all those sleep associations are great. 


Murray Guest  15:04

You mentioned sleep and alcohol and that sort of connection, just then, but at the start of our conversation you mentioned, or you alluded to the correlation, or I guess, some of that similarity between blood alcohol content and you know, when we are tired. What do you know about that? What can you share about that?


Kirsty McCulloch  15:25

So this has been, this research has been really important for political lobbying, to say, you know, we’ve all well accepted for a long time now that it’s not okay to drink and drive, and pull up your mates if they try and drink and drive, take away their car keys. But from a political lobbying perspective, we started to do experiments comparing how people react when they’re tired versus how they react when they’re drunk. So we could actually say, look, this is as important as driving drunk. So when I very first started out in this industry, we were doing experiments comparing that and these studies have been done hundreds of times around the world now too so we know without a doubt that when you’ve been awake for about 18 hours, your performance is comparable to having a BAC of .05, which is a legal driving limit. So 18 hours awake, it’s not very long, it’s kind of getting up at 6am. And then getting home after a nice dinner at midnight, that’s 18 hours a week, point 05, then add a few drinks onto that, then your performance is going to be even worse. If you’ve been awake for 24 hours, which lots of shift workers do, they’ll get up to do school drop off, be awake during the day, go their first night shift and then drive home, 24 hours awake is not unreasonable for shift workers. And performance is worse than having a BAC of point one.


Murray Guest  16:37

Wow, wow, yeah. And I unfortunately, and I’m sure you have over the years heard about people coming home from night work, and you know, getting very close to home and having those accidents, having micro sleeps. And so I know that what you’re sort of starting to think of, that you do sorry, is in working with organizations, also, how are our shift patterns structured? How are we getting people to and from work? How does that look so that it’s actually supporting their overall wellbeing?


Kirsty McCulloch  17:09

Yeah, that’s right. And so driving is probably the biggest risk that any shift worker faces, from a life and death perspective anyway, and they’re likely to make a whole lot of mistakes during this shift as well. But you’re right, how we set these shifts up? How we support our workers to say, actually, I’m too tired to drive. Do we give them cab vouchers home if they’ve worked overtime, for example. There’s a whole lot of consideration that can go into that.


Murray Guest  17:34

Yeah, and I think, and then you sort of mentioned this before, too, it’s not just the employee and the company that they work for. But also, I can imagine family members, and let’s say if someone is working in an environment like that, and they’re working long hours, how well their partner knows the importance of sleep, and they’re supporting each other to get that sleep as well when they get home.


Kirsty McCulloch  17:55

Yeah, that’s right. A lot of shift workers get home after a night, and then they get their list of things to do during the day. And yeah, they don’t really prioritize sleep at all.


Murray Guest  18:06

So something we also spoke about earlier was about human factors. What’s your overall short description of when we say human factors? What do we really mean?


Kirsty McCulloch  18:17

Human Factors has really piqued my curiosity because everyone wants to blame something when things go wrong. So we’re trained and programmed to do this from such an early age. And I do it myself, when something goes wrong here, something gets dropped, something gets smashed, especially if it’s something of mine. First thing I want to know is who did it? And what are they going to do about it, and kind of want to tell them off. That’s my automatic reaction, even though I’m the Human Factors person. So human factors is understanding that we all make mistakes. And we’re all programmed to be lazy. So we’re all programmed to conserve energy and do things in the easiest way possible. And we’re creative individuals, or if we’re gonna find a way to do that we’ll do it. So knowing that is our nature that we will make mistakes, and we’re all programmed to do things in the easiest way possible, and it’s totally acceptable for people to break rules and to expect that to happen. So as companies, we need to try and preempt that and work out how can we make this doable in the safest way possible. And not judging or blaming people unnecessarily. There’s certainly times where you do. But trying to understand why was that done, and how was that done. Rather than jump to blame to start off with, so that we can prevent things more systemically.


Murray Guest  19:32

Yeah, and I think you raised the point that there is a difference around the conscious choice and the subconscious actions. Yeah. I can give you a major list of the times I’ve made mistakes. But we don’t have time for that right now. But I know rushing is that human factor that’s tripped me up quite a lot.


Kirsty McCulloch  19:54

Yeah, rushing, being slightly foggy, having multiple things on your brain. So you know, you’re trying to keep things like 10 things present in your mind so that you can jump straight into the next thing as soon as you’re finished. It’s another big one as well.


Murray Guest  20:08

So if someone’s a leader of a team or a business, and how do they actually start to even implement something like human factors? How do they even start to consider it’s okay for people to make mistakes and errors?


Kirsty McCulloch  20:23

It’s really, really tough, especially when you start to talk about, you know, potentially life threatening incidents or incidents that have cost a lot of money from an infrastructure perspective. So people have, you know, cost, you know, sunk a multimillion dollar plane or something. It’s really, really tough. But when you start to analyze incidents on the whole, and mostly companies will come to me and say, Look, we’ve had a lot of, I’ve just had one today, we’ve had a lot of crush injuries where body parts have been crushed in plant as a whole lot of different types of plant. But we’re having a lot of these injuries. So then when we look back, and we look at why they’re happening, the rules are being broken. Well, why are the rules being broken? Well, they were written 20 years ago, they haven’t been addressed. Staff aren’t trained in them. There’s a whole lot of reasons why people are breaking those rules. Not to mention, it’s so hard to follow them and be compliant, takes half the time. So of course, of course, there’s going to be workarounds. So the next step then is to say, Okay, well, rather than getting them to keep on breaking the rules, let’s come up with better rules, that’s actually going to be safe for them to do it. Let’s involve them in doing it. And of course, the only way that companies get engagement in that is if the employees are involved. And if they’re blaming them and firing them for making, you know, for not doing the right thing, then they’re not going to get that level of engagement. So it takes a little bit of time, but normally, there’s some good traction behind them and some good evidence that they need to do something before they engage.


Murray Guest  21:54

Yeah. And I think about the experiences that people have had over the years where they’ve started to create that sort of emotional frame around how they they feel about the work they do, and how important helping them reframe what’s going on in their, in their working life, so that they are going to embrace it and feel like they’re not going to be blamed.


Kirsty McCulloch  22:16

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And that, it’s all baby steps, you know, somebody gives a little bit of trust, it’s about this vulnerability word, again, that you use before Murray, somebody gives a little bit of trust. And then if that’s not broken, they’ll give a little bit more than next time. And if that’s not broken, they’ll give a little bit more. So it just builds and builds and builds as a culture develops.


Murray Guest  22:34

So when did human factors as a concept start? I wish I knew off the top of my head. I just can’t think right now.


Kirsty McCulloch  22:41

It’s in the 1980s. A guy called Trevor Kletz. Geico Trebek clips. And James Reason in the 90s. Really, really founded on human error, understanding why people make mistakes. And also understanding how to fix that. So people are actually unintentionally doing the wrong thing, making mistakes. retraining them’s not going to fix it, because they’re not consciously doing it. So telling them to do the right thing, or be more careful, actually doesn’t work if they’re unintentionally doing it. So, so these practitioners that talk around, Well, how can we better treat that with memory triggers? Or, you know, engineering solution so that people physically can’t get it wrong?


Murray Guest  23:22

Yeah, and I think you raised a really good point before too, about how do we create a system or a process that makes it easy to succeed? Like, where it’s not easy to not fight because it’s so bloody, you know, complex? What’s, what’s the, if we look the future way, what do you think the future holds for human factors and this sort of understanding of we actually do need people, we actually do have people doing the work.


Kirsty McCulloch  23:51

Yeah, I think it will be. We’ve seen that start to emerge in a lot of industries like space, aviation, and medicine, where systems are much, much better designed, and relying less on human intuition and more on systems to actually managing so it’s easy to interact and intuitive to interact. Even the way that we use phones now is intuitive. My one year old, when she was only one, started to pick up my iPhone and use it because it’s just so intuitive and easy to operate. Now, with minimal scope for error, there’s not much you can do to stuff up a phone these days. And when they were first introduced, you could easily delete things and wipe things. And it was hard to use anything. So the better we get with systems and engineering, I think the less scope for human error there’ll be. But also relying on individuals to be part of those solutions, rather than coming up with you know, engineers that have never touched an airplane to design an airplane, for example. And you know, that will become less and less of an occurrence.


Murray Guest  24:51

Yeah. Okay, gotcha. Again, I hope and I get the feeling that through this pandemic for last three months, it has again highlighted the importance of empowering people, trusting people, consulting them. We’ve had the biggest, you know, working from home experiment ever. And I guess lots of people have been delivering, if not the same amount of work, but more in lots of cases as well.


Kirsty McCulloch  25:19

Yeah, people are saying they’re way more efficient in their meetings, they jump to the point a lot quicker. And they’re using the technology that’s been at their fingertips for years now. But they’ve been forced to use it. And now they’ve embraced it. It’s this whole resistance to change thing that none of us want to do it if it’s new, but as soon as we have to we can learn to love it.


Murray Guest  25:39

Yeah, totally agree. Now, you’ve recently had another baby. Can we talk about your baby? 


Kirsty McCulloch  25:46

Oh she’s two years old now. She’s turning 2 next week, so she’s not that recent. 


Murray Guest  25:49

I’m talking about the recent one…


Kirsty McCulloch  25:51

Oh the even more recent one. Yes, yes. So that would be a fatigue app that takes fatigue management off the shelves and puts it into a real living breathing beast.


Murray Guest  26:04

Yes. And I say that because I know launching an app or releasing a book. It’s that birthing process.


Kirsty McCulloch  26:12

Yeah, Indeed, indeed, I’ve been working on for several years now getting all the algorithms right and testing it. So in conjunction with a company called Oz Health, is a really big fitness for duty company that do a lot of drug and alcohol testing and general employee wellness. So in conjunction with them, I’ve developed this app called Awaken. So that’s a fatigue app. And it gets, it gets individuals to measure how much they’ve worked, and how much they’ve slept, just using a Fitbit, so it pairs with a Fitbit. And it will be paired with other devices going forward. Basically, to tell you just how tired you are, or how likely you are to make fatigue related mistakes. So for shift workers or people that are on call, I do a lot of work in the water industry where people are called out left, right and center. So you can imagine if something goes wrong with a water main, you want water at your house when you wake up in the morning, so you can have a nice warm shower. So that has to be fixed immediately. These workers run in very lean teams. So they’re called out at all hours of the day to fix water leaks, and respond to things and the power industry is exactly the same. But any workers that do this ad hoc call outs, we want to make sure that they’re fit and safe to do the work, especially if they’re working with high risk, high pressure or high power tools, and infrastructure. So this app can track how they’re going, let their supervisors know how they’re going as well. And just make sure that everyone’s actually tracking on a day to day basis. So you said before, how do companies keep this alive? And I said, Well, they can refresh it every year just through awareness. But this is another way to keep it alive. By actively monitoring on an individual’s and also a supervisor basis, how people are tracking with fatigue on a daily basis.


Murray Guest  27:51

Yeah, well, congratulations on getting the app out, as you said, it’s been years in the making, and there’s all that work in the background, the algorithms to make it work. So tell me if I’m part of a team, I’m getting the mains on in the middle of the night, and do I get an alert? Or does it tell me some way to be mindful to watch out to, to get some sleep? What does it do?


Kirsty McCulloch  28:15

Yeah, so as soon as you tick over and into a moderate or a high risk zone, you’ll just get a push notification to your phone so it won’t have huge alarm bells that startle you out of the concentration of what you’re doing. But it will just give you a notification on your phone to say, Look, you’re in a moderate zone, you probably need to think about your risk, or you’re in a high risk Red Zone, and you probably think about stopping work very soon. Similarly, if you’re in a high risk zone, it can alert your supervisor to say, look, Murray’s really tired, he’s worked 24 hours straight. And he’s probably only had two hours sleep. So you should probably check in on him. And just make sure that he’s thinking about going home soon, or there’s other controls in place.


Murray Guest  28:54

And I can imagine that powerful tool to support leaders where they don’t have that direct line of sight with their leadership with their team.


Kirsty McCulloch  29:01

Yeah, well, very few companies track actual work hours. Very, very few, which is surprising, given the legal liabilities around actually managing it. So very, very few companies even know when or where their employees are working. So this is a really good way to track that as well. Every company that I’ve ever worked with where we’ve done reviews on rosters and working hours takes so much effort to gather examples of actual work hours because companies just don’t keep it or track it. And they rely on individuals to say how much they’ve done in a month for overtime purposes only.


Murray Guest  29:36

Yep, yep. Yeah. Well, fantastic. And again, back to some of your earlier points around sleep and fatigue. This app I assume is not suitable for just heavy industry, it could be suitable for any industry.


Kirsty McCulloch  29:52

Yeah, we’ve got a council, just a local city council using it at the moment to track their worker’s sleep and fatigue. And so yeah, and anyone can use it for individual purposes or for company purposes alone, some companies are just using it to raise awareness. So they’ll only use it for a month out of every year during their awareness month. And some researchers are using it to compare different rosters. So to say, you know, this Team A’s using a roster, Team B’s using a different roster, what do they look like? How does overtime rate on one versus the other? How do people sleep on one versus the other? If we swapped them around, how do the teams interact? So you can use it quite scientifically as well to get some data driven decisions made within your company.


Murray Guest  30:36

Yeah, fantastic. And I’ll make sure that there’s links to the app in the show notes, so people can check it out and and see how it can support them in their team in you know, managing their fatigue. 


Kirsty McCulloch  30:47

Yeah, it’s exciting to get it out there. 


Murray Guest  30:49

I bet. I bet it has been. So well done. Awesome work. Thank you. It’s been so good chatting with you and connecting and talking about the work that you do. I know that there’s a real impact on what you do through the companies that you partner with around the health, the wellbeing, and of course, the safety and productivity. So thank you for the chance to talk through all this with you. 


Kirsty McCulloch  31:12

Thanks, Murray. I appreciate you inviting me. 


Murray Guest  31:14

That’s okay. Now, I wouldn’t let you get away without you sharing your definition of inspired energy, which is something that everyone shares on the podcast. So what is your definition of inspired energy?


Kirsty McCulloch  31:26

I think this changes every time you ask me. But my definition is, is finding something you’re passionate about. And creatively pursuing excellence non stop so that you can deliver those learnings to everyone you touch.


Murray Guest  31:44

You know what? I think I might take that definition and put that on the website. That was beautiful. I like that one. Yeah, that was a good one. That was very good. Thank you. Again, thank you so much. It’s been great chatting, connecting. Where’s the best place for people to find you online? 


Kirsty McCulloch  32:03

On my LinkedIn page. It is that easy for people to find? 


Murray Guest  32:09

I’ll make sure it’s a link to your LinkedIn page in our show notes as well. 


Kirsty McCulloch  32:14

That would be great, I’m not tech savvy. 


Murray Guest  32:17

That’s fine. We’ll make sure that’s there. Great chatting to you today again, and if anyone got something out of today’s session, please share it on social media and or let me know and also check out the Awaken fatigue app as well. Thanks again Kirsty so much. 


Kirsty McCulloch  32:35

Fabulous. Thanks, Murray.


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