According to the U.S. Department of Labor, shift workers are at a higher risk for health and safety issues such as fatigue, irritability, reduced performance and decreased mental agility in the workplace. Due to the changes in scheduling and/or adapting to working at night, shift workers have more difficulty concentrating, which increases the possibility of error or accidents. As a result, this can be a risk to both the worker and their coworkers. Consider the following 7 approaches to decrease these risks:
1. Design work schedule changes efficiently
- Avoid quick shift changes and give at least 24 hours before rotating shift workers to another shift
- Avoid schedules that allow working several days in a row, followed by several days off.
- Allow flexibility for start and end times to accommodate employees with long commutes or childcare needs.
2. Consider changes in workload distribution - assign heavier work to shorter shifts if possible
3. Maintain an appropriate work environment
4. Institute training and awareness programs
5. Offer social programs for second- and third-shift workers
6. Provide appropriate access to health care and counseling
7. During orientation and ongoing training, encourage employees to do the following:
- Get enough sleep
- Adopt a healthy diet
- Learn to recognize signs of fatigue and take breaks when needed
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