Employers who apply an ergonomic approach to shift pattern design can anticipate improvements in productivity. A new publication released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the United Kingdom is designed to show them the way.
The HSE advice will also help them recognize the symptoms of poorly-designed shifts.
Shifts planned with little thought to ergonomics are a health-and-safety gamble. If the shift pattern doesn’t balance the demands of work with time for rest and recovery fatigue, accidents, injuries and ill health are all but inevitable.
HSA’s ” Managing Shift Work: Health and Safety Guidance” draws together advice and best practice from a range of sources. It explains employers’ legal duties and the risks associated with shiftwork and provides advice on risk assessment, design of shift work schedules and the shift-work environment.
The publication is the result of many HSE studies on the impact of shift workers on employees. The research underlines the inherent risks in overnight work. A study by Circadian Technologies reported in Business Week in April 2005 concludes that obesity, diabetes and heart disorders are higher for night workers, that they have a 20 percent greater chance of being involved in a severe accident and make five times more serious mistakes than their daytime counterparts.
One of several studies cited in the April 2005 issue of The Ergonomics Report