Safety and OSHA News

A tweak to Daylight Saving Time for safety?

A 2009 study showed there are 5.7% more workplace injuries on the Monday after the change to Daylight Saving Time. What if a tweak to DST would help reduce that effect?

As it stands now, most of the nation (Arizona and Hawaii excluded) move our clocks forward one hour at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March. We “fall back” to standard time on the first Sunday in November.

It doesn’t give most Monday through Friday workers much time to adjust. The day after we change, you have to get up, effectively, an hour earlier than you had been. So, even though many people enjoy the extra daylight in the evening, many don’t like the tired feeling they experience on the Monday morning after.

Eventually, it all evens out. Another study showed fewer traffic crashes during DST compared to Standard Time.

But what if we could do something to blunt the “day after” effect of DST?

That’s where a campaign by mattress retailer Sleepy’s comes in. The proposal: to switch DST from 2 a.m. Sunday morning to 2 a.m. Saturday morning. That would give many workers an extra day to adjust before venturing out, possibly in the dark, while they are more tired than usual.

Sleepy’s conducted a survey, and 70% said they would be in favor with the change. The retailer is going to send a petition to the federal government.

What you can do this year

Since Congress can’t seem to agree on much these days (the most recent change extending Daylight Saving Time by four weeks was by legislation), here are some suggestions about what workers can do so they’re not so tired on the Monday after the clocks spring forward an hour:

  • Limit exposure to bright light during the evening before going to bed. Light suppresses the secretion of the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. Also, put a night light in your bathroom in case you have to get up in the middle of the night. That way you won’t have to put on a bright overhead light.
  • Expose yourself to light during waking hours as much as possible. It’s an environmental cue for when you should be awake and when you should be asleep.
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol and caffeine consumption starting at about 4 pm.
  • Get some exercise a few hours before you intend to go to sleep. Even a ten-minute walk can help.

How do employees at your company cope with Daylight Saving Time? Let us know in the comments below.

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