Does Shift Work Cause More Workplace Accidents?

Shift work is when employees work continuous shifts. Often, it includes working the night shift. Studies show that working at night repeatedly, even if it is a person’s regular routine, can be harmful to the body. When an employee’s body is continually under stress, this can eventually lead to reduction in work performance and an increase in accidents. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that accidents and work injuries are 30 percent more likely during the overnight hours.

Physical Problems Linked to Shift Work

About 15 million American employees work night shifts. Additionally, studies show that workers who regularly work night shifts are almost 30 percent more likely to be overweight than those who work rotating shifts. Also, female night shift workers are almost 20 percent more likely to develop breast, skin or gastrointestinal cancer than other women. Other problems that have been linked to shift work include:

  • Heart disease
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Depression
  • Poor eating habits
  • Worsening of chronic diseases

Shift work is common in the following work sectors:

  • Construction
  • Oil
  • Health care
  • Emergency
  • Hospitality

How Does Sleep Deprivation Impact Work?

One of the most significant problems in night work is fatigue. Sleep deprivation can lead to the following issues:

  • Decreased motivation
  • Decreased attention and vigilance to safety procedures at work
  • Decreased alertness
  • Decreased reaction time

Shift workers are more susceptible to sleep deprivation since working at night and sleeping during the day disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm. Typically, the body is more prone to sleepiness between midnight and 8 a.m., which causes workers to be vulnerable to accidents during the overnight hours.

What Can Employers Do to Avoid Workplace Accidents Related to Shift Work?

Employers who have shift workers must be aware of these hazards. Employers can mitigate sleep disruption by making certain that the shifts are constant with breaks in between. Shifts should not be longer than eight hours. If a shift is longer than eight hours, a worker should have longer and more frequent breaks. Ensuring that workers have two days off in a row can help rejuvenate workers. If shifts are twelve hours, there should be numerous breaks, and workers are encouraged to move around during breaks.

Work accidents are more common during night shifts, so it is important that night shift workers remain vigilant. If an employee is hurt at work, they are entitled to workers’ compensation. A lawyer will be able to assist with benefits.

Chester County Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Wusinich & Sweeney, LLC Help Injured Night Shift Workers

If you were hurt in a work accident, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation. Our Chester County worker’s compensation lawyers at Wusinich & Sweeney, LLC understand the dangers of night work, and we will help you get compensation for injuries. Contact us online or call us at 610-594-1600 for a free consultation. Located in Exton, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Downingtown, West Chester, Exton, Coatesville, Phoenixville, Malvern, Lyndell, Wagontown, Uwchlan Township, Parkesburg, Chester Springs, Lancaster County, Reading, and Morgantown.

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