For workers whose body clocks are constantly disrupted due to irregular work schedules, drowsiness on the job can be a major safety issue.
Reduced concentration, decreased motivation, and slower reaction times that often accompany shiftwork can add up to both a potential loss of productivity and an increased risk of accidents and injuries during nontraditional working hours.
The risk is particularly significant in safety-critical positions that involve operating machinery, driving, or other tasks requiring alertness.
Here are eight safety tips to make sure “third shift” doesn’t translate to “three times the accidents”:
- Allow employees to take scheduled breaks to walk around and do some light stretches to keep energy levels high.
- Make sure workers take extra safety precautions while working an irregular shift to account for a possible lack of alertness.
- Workers should avoid operating heavy machinery, driving, or handling hazardous materials if they become drowsy and notify a supervisor if they feel they aren’t sufficiently alert to perform a task safely.
- Those who supervise shift workers should try to assign a variety of tasks to help workers remain alert and attentive.
Make sure the workplace is well-lit, heated or cooled to a comfortable temperature, and properly ventilated.
- Make sure the workplace is well-lit, heated or cooled to a comfortable temperature, and properly ventilated.
- Caffeine can increase alertness temporarily, but it’s not a substitute for sleep. Make sure workers understand this and aren’t relying solely on coffee to keep going.
- Encourage employees to eat a nutritious, balanced diet and exercise regularly. To make this easier for workers whose schedules can make healthy living difficult, employers might try providing healthy snacks and a space for employees to exercise during breaks.
- Outside of work, employees should set a sleeping schedule and adhere to it to minimize disruptions to their circadian rhythms.
Keep Your Workers Safe
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