It’s often unavoidable: Employees in safety-sensitive jobs have to put in long hours to meet a deadline. However, a new report suggests there are steps that can reduce the risks that fatigue will lead to injuries or even death.
The report addresses 12-hour shifts for nurses, but the suggestions can apply to many industries.
Is It Time to Pull the Plug on 12-Hour Shifts? by two University of Maryland researchers suggests following the lead of airlines, trucking and nuclear plants by ensuring breaks during long shifts and other schedule strategies.
Among the report’s suggestions:
- When 10- or 12-hour shifts are required, eliminate all overtime.
- Leaving on time must be a guarantee instead of an unlikely occurrence.
- Don’t call an employee back to work after a 12-hour shift because it disrupts their sleep and implies that time off is a luxury, as opposed to a necessity.
- Allow power napping. Studies confirm that a brief 15-20 minute nap during a work shift creates additional alertness.
- Don’t cut back on or cancel scheduled breaks.
- Schedule easier tasks at the end of the shift and more difficult ones at the beginning.
The report says calling workers back in from home is a big one. Employees who work long hours should have at least a 10-hour turnaround time between shifts.
What does your company do to ensure that employees who work long shifts aren’t fatigued on the job? Let us know in the Comments Box below.