Shift work and fatigue
Irregular hours of work and work patterns that include night and early morning shifts can lead to disruption of the internal body clock, sleeping difficulties and fatigue.
If workers are fatigued, they will be less alert, their reaction time will be slower, they will find it harder to concentrate and they may make poor decisions. This can lead to accidents and injuries.
What do I have to do?
If you operate a shift work system or your employees are required to work irregular hours, you should assess any risks that arise from their working pattern and take action to tackle any problems you identify.
Factors to consider during risk assessment are:
- the workload
- the work activity
- shift timing and duration
- direction of shift rotation. It is better for the shifts to run in a 'forward rotation', ie morning/afternoon/night
- the number and length of breaks within a shift
- rest periods between shifts