Health at Work 4 All! SHIFT WORK

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1 Health at Work 4 All! SHIFT WORK Shift work definitely challenges one s mind, body and family. In addition to these challenges, sleep researchers have uncovered hidden economic costs to workplaces, such as increased absenteeism, staff turnover, illness and accident costs, as well as reduced productivity (Heslegrave, 1998). Parents shift schedules may also affect the wellbeing of their children (Graham- Lowe 2005). Most studies on shift work classify shift workers as anyone working outside regular daytime hours of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Under this definition, shift workers include all people working evening shifts, night shifts, rotating shifts, split shifts or irregular or on-call schedules both during the week and on the weekends (Institute for Work and Health). Fast Facts: Williams (2008), using data from Statistics Canada s General Social Survey, found that 25.5% of full-time workers, aged worked shifts in Over 1.5 million Ontarians are workers who may experience health and social problems related to non-standard working hours (Sanderson, Beyers, Palangio, Heslegrave and Picard, 2002). Shift work, by its very nature, is a major factor in the health and safety of workers (CCOHS 2009). Shift work can predispose individuals to accidents, depression and pregnancy complications (Klompas, Huterer and Shapiro, 1998). Shift workers report being somewhat more dissatisfied (29%) with their work-life/family balance, compared with regular day workers (23%) (The Daily Statistics Canada 2008). Impact of Shift Work: Heslegrave (1998) indicates that common shift worker complaints include: Poor quality and quantity of sleep Difficulty staying awake during work hours Gastrointestinal problems Cardiovascular symptoms Disrupted family and social life

2 More recent research findings from the Institute for Work and Health (Issue Briefing Shift Work and Health April 2010) show a possible link between shift work and Workplace injury Cancer Diabetes Psychological distress Pregnancy complications Taking the step forward... Shift work is a way of life for many workers. Some things to consider when designing a shift schedule: Use an inclusive approach with staff when designing shift schedules Establish a reasonable degree of decision-making autonomy and supervisor support Get input and feedback from all levels of the workforce Make provisions for employee variability, differences, preferences Identify the unique workplace demands Strike a balance between meeting organizational demands and employee needs Monitor and evaluate the shift schedule design Restrict successive evening or night shifts to three shifts, Rotate shifts in a forward rotation (morning, evening, nights) Reduce night and weekend work as much as possible Avoid quick change-overs (i.e. going from night to afternoon shift on the same day) and ensure a rest period of at least 11 consecutive hours per 24 hour time period Give consideration to safe staffing practices that reduce overtime expectations Making Positive Changes Education and Skill-Building Provide resources and training on the prevention of shift work-related problems during orientation and on an ongoing basis (ensure availability to all staff during their work hours). Education in stress recognition and reduction techniques is helpful for employees working shifts.

3 Environmental Support Make staff part of the scheduling process; encourage the use of a back-up buddy system Offer opportunities for strategic napping (i.e minute power naps during break time) Ensure appropriate lighting and ventilation Be mindful of the separation between workstations so workers can stay in contact with one another Provide rest facilities where possible Consider offering facilities for social activities with shift-workers in mind Consider access to quality day care for shift-workers children Support healthy eating around the clock by having healthy food choices available at all times (www.ccohs.ca Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety 2010) Policy Considerations The practices and policies put in place by managers of round-the-clock or 24/7 operations can significantly influence shift worker alertness (and hence safety) and performance. Suggested practices and policies: Select an appropriate shift schedule Set the length of shifts Manage overtime Increase lighting levels Provide shift worker lifestyle training to help shift workers better handle issues such as understanding basic circadian physiology, sleep and napping, caffeine usage, social life issues, diet and nutrition, work-life/family balance issues, etc. Provide financial incentives such as additional pay, shift differentials or compensatory time off Make attendance at orientation education sessions mandatory Make sure staff meetings, education opportunities etc that are available to day shift workers are also made available to shift workers Provide access to quality day-care for shift workers children Indirect practices and policies: Consider retirement compensation practices based on salary in the last few years of employment (which can encourage excessive overtime among older workers who may be less able to obtain adequate sleep)

4 Screen and hire new shift workers in a way that also assesses adaptability to a shift work schedule (Wikipedia, CCOHS and Sloan Family Research network) For more information and policy considerations: Additional RESOURCES: Institute for Work and Health Shift work and Health Issue Briefing - April 2010 Control over Time and Work-life Balance: An Empirical Analysis Graham S Lowe PhD, The Graham Lowe Group Inc Policy Briefing Series Work-Family Information for State Legislators Alfred P Sloan Foundation 2006 Issue 6 (update 2010) Opportunities for Policy Leadership on Shift Work Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) The Daily (Statistics Canada) Wednesday Aug 27, 2008 Study: Work-life balance and role overload of shift workers Sloan Work and Family Research Network

5 REFERENCES: Beyers, J. (2000, March). The Work and Family Challenge. Presentation at the Middlesex-London Heart Health Program Workshop, London, ON. Middlesex London Good Hearted Living. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) OHS Answers: Rotational Shiftwork retrieved from web-site June 17, 2010 Heslegrave, R.J. (1998). Asleep at the Switch: Coping with Shift Work. The Canadian Journal of DIAGNOSIS, 15, Institute for Work and Health Shift Work and Health Issue Briefing - April 2010 Klompas, M., Huterer, N., Shapiro, C Patients Working Shifts: Treating the Chronic Effects. The Canadian Journal of DIAGNOSIS, 15, Porcupine Health Unit and Sudbury and District Health Unit. (1998) Shiftwork Like Clockwork Worksite Wellness Program for Shift workers Facilitator s Guide, 2 nd Ed. Sudbury, Ontario: Porcupine and Sudbury and District Health Units. Sanderson, R., Beyers, J., Palangio, A., Heslegrave, R.J., Picard, L. (2002). Population Health Consequences of Shiftwork in Ontario, Technical Report. Sudbury: Sudbury and District Health Unit and Public Health Research, Education and Development Program. Shields, M. (1999). Health Reports: Long working hours and health. Statistics Canada, Health Statistics, Vol. 11 No.2, Catalogue No XPB. Sloan Work and Family Research Network, Issue 6 Updated 2010 Retrieved form web-site July 2010 STAT Canada Work life Balance and role overload of shift workers Nov 3, 2005 retrieved from web-site July Wikipedia: retrieved from web-site July 30,2010 en.wikepedia.org-shiftwork Williams C. Work-life balance of shift workers. Perspectives. August 2008: 5-16.

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