Company Name __________________________ Job Name __________________________ Date________
GENERAL SAFETY - SHIFT WORK
- Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Bhopal. Three significant
industrial disasters caused, at least in part, by human error. Do you know what
they had in common? All three occurred between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m.
Coincidentally, this is the lowest point of alertness during the day. If you
work between the hours of 8 p.m. and 8 a.m., studies show that your alertness
decreases and, as a result, you make more errors. With this comes an increased
likelihood of accidents and injuries. Two thirds of all transportation accidents
involving hazardous materials occur between 6 p.m. and 9 am. on a straight road,
and under good driving conditions. In Japan, a study of locomotive operators
found that 82% of near accidents occurred between midnight and 8 a.m.
- Humans are predominantly day animals. We are controlled by an
internal "body clock" that controls hormone release, blood pressure
and body temperatures. These, in turn, tell us when it is time to sleep. If you
work a swing shift, for at least part of your shift, you are probably fighting
off your body's natural instinct to fall asleep. If you work a graveyard shift,
you are most certainly fighting your body to stay awake. It is hard to
permanently adjust to these unusual hours. Once they no longer need to be
worked, your body will revert to its more natural sleep/awake cycle. You know it
is tough. But you can adjust, and here's how!
- Establish a bedtime routine. You will need your family's help
in keeping the noise down and the darkness needed to fall asleep. Ear plugs or
droning fans will help block the noise. Good heavy curtains, shades or eye
patches can help provide the darkness. On days off, get 3 to 4 hours of sleep
that overlaps the time you sleep during the work days. Do not rely on afternoon
naps. You need a good seven hours of uninterrupted sleep. Do not rely on pills.
They can cause dependence.
- Avoid caffeine within five hours of bedtime. Also, avoid
alcohol. Alcohol can make you sleep lighter and less restful. Shift workers tend
to sleep 2 to 3 hours less than others as it is. A word of caution: Minimal
amounts of alcohol and minimal amounts of sleep add up to a major deterioration
in performance. Someone sleeping 5 hours a night and drinking only one can of
beer is as impaired as someone who drinks 6 cans after a full night's sleep.
- Eat nutritious foods. Avoid fried food and those that are
hard to digest. Take a regular lunch period and avoid sugary snacks. One study
has found that shift workers have higher blood cholesterol levels even if they
eat the same as day workers. If this is the case, you may have to work harder to
maintain health and fitness.
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