Shift Schedule/Roster Design

Shift work rosters not reflecting human alertness / sleep cycles & needs will cause chronic employee fatigue & lead to poor performance & increased human error & accident risk.

Considerable evidence demonstrates a correlation between shift work design features including:

  • Speed & direction of work rotation
  • Timing & length of the work day and consecutive work blocks
  • Timing & length of recovery periods (days off)
  • Off-duty time between consecutive work periods
  • Quality and quantity of weekend time off including long weekends


  • On-the-job alertness performance and productivity
  • Attentiveness
  • Safety & alertness
  • Morale, stress & attitude
  • Employee well-being (sickness & absenteeism)
  • Quality of life

Poorly designed schedules also result in under-staffing causing excessive overtime. Over-staffing results in excessive payroll costs. Arguably, roster design is the work element most significantly affecting alertness, attentiveness and performance. Therefore applying roster design principles that promote alertness, manage fatigue, advance safety and ensure due diligence make sound safety and business sense.

FMS’ Bio-Roster Design Process & Output

Unlike traditional roster design predating alertness science knowledge, FMS designs shift work schedules/rosters reflecting scientific research findings into shift work’s impact on alertness, attentiveness and performance. Our rosters, termed biocompatible rosters (bio-rosters), work with alertness needs to proactively manage fatigue risk within predictable and acceptable thresholds while protecting operational requirements and taking into account shift worker (end user) quality of life – work/rest pattern preferences, thus securing essential employee endorsement in bio-rosters installed – to deliver a win-win outcome.

Bio-rosters advance fatigue management beyond the limitations of fatigue index tools, which only reactively flag unacceptable roster design fatigue risk, leaving management with the task of somehow addressing unacceptable risk, typically through trial and error.

Application of FMS’ bio-mathematical roster principles does not typically increase staff levels.

FMS has the knowledge and experience, supported by our specialised leading edge bio-mathematical software tool capability, to assess and identify roster fatigue risk. This capacity enables us to design and install customised biocompatible rosters that will help:

  • Protect operating needs
  • Promote staff alertness
  • Improve staff quality of life

FMS’ biocompatible roster design captures management and staff input to deliver win-win bio-rosters that:

  • Equip employees (via our education sessions) with alertness knowledge to make informed choices on roster options we design and they helpselect for implementation
  • Generates employee buy-in and ownership of bio-rosters
  • Provides specialised education to help employees manage any residual fatigue zones of the bio-rosters to create a benchmark roster best practice

Our bio-roster expertise extends from railways to industry to service organisations. See summary of our bio-roster services (24MB).