While many of us appreciate the extra hour of sunshine in the evening, Daylight Saving Time (DST) comes with risks, particularly for workplace safety.
Workers in certain positions and industries who already have a higher risk of being drowsy may be more tired than usual on Monday, March 12, the first full day of DST. (For the majority of states that observe DST, clocks spring ahead one hour Sunday, March 11 – 2.a.m. becomes 3 a.m.)
Among the workers who will be affected most by losing an hour of sleep:
- shift workers
- medical staff
- emergency responders
- military personnel
- any worker over age 40
- transportation professionals, and
- those who work rotating or night shifts.
The risk is called circadian misalignment which occurs when we force ourselves to stay awake when our bodies believe we should be sleeping.
Research shows fatal car crashes are more likely if we are tired and increase on the Monday after the time change.
“Mondays are always tough, but this one could be deadly,” said Emily Whitcomb, senior program manager of the fatigue initiative at the National Safety Council (NSC). “We encourage employers to educate employees about the importance of sleep, and this is the perfect time of the year to implement a sleep health program.”
The NSC has released a new report, Tired at Work: How fatigue affects our bodies. The white paper explains the causes of fatigue in the workplace and details the effects on workers’ performance, safety and health.
An NSC survey found 43% of Americans say they don’t get enough sleep to mitigate risks that can jeopardize safety at work.
Lack of sleep costs $410 billion annually in societal expenses. The NSC has developed a Fatigue Cost Calculator for employers to determine how much a drowsy workforce impacts their bottom line, and the Fatigue Kit for employers that want to educate their employees about fatigue and how to get better, healthier sleep.
Two states – Arizona and Hawaii – don’t change their clocks twice a year like the rest of the U.S. They may soon be joined by a third state: Florida. Lawmakers in the Sunshine State have passed a measure to stay on DST all year long.