Investigating on-call work in rail infrastructure maintenance

Cebola, Nuno M.F. (2014) Investigating on-call work in rail infrastructure maintenance. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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The use of on-call work in industry has now surpassed that of shiftwork and night work. Industries as a whole make use of on-call work daily as a way to maintain 24/7 operations whilst also reducing costs. Despite this, on-call work remains underresearched and no best practice or management guidelines are available.

As the first substantial piece of human factors work examining on-call work in the rail industry, this thesis has the overall aim of increasing the understanding of on-call scheduling systems of work, and also to provide recommendations to the planning and management of on-call work in the rail industry which may also be applied in other industries.

A semi-structured interview study with 72 rail maintenance on-call workers of Great Britain rail infrastructure owner and operator (Network Rail) explored on-call arrangements in place and the perceived unwanted consequences of this type of work. Anxiety, fatigue, and reduced well-being were perceived as the main consequences of working on-call. The findings also indicate that when discussing on-call there are three separate on-call situations; being on-call, receiving calls, and responding to calls; which influence the study variables differently.

From the key themes identified initially an on-call questionnaire for managerial staff was developed and data from across the country generating 479 individual responses. A two-week diary study (one week on-call and the week after) with 26 participants aimed to collect real-time ratings. Results indicated that working on-call was perceived as a leading cause of stress, poor quality of sleep and fatigue. This is due to the inherent unpredictability of on-call work, which is the key differentiating factor between on-call work and other types of working-hours systems. Receiving and responding to calls were perceived as detrimental to general well-being both to

workers and their families, fatigue, and performance.

The work performed for this thesis allowed the development of the first on-call specific framework that identifies not only the key factors at play but also the relationships between them. It presents a set of principles or theories that other researchers can use to guide future research and that industry professionals can use to deliver more human friendly on-call work management processes and procedures.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Golightly, D.
Wilson, J.R.
Keywords: Rail, on-call, oncall, on call, fatigue,
Subjects: T Technology > TF Railroad engineering and operation
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Engineering > Department of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering
Item ID: 14347
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2014 13:27
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2017 08:23

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