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Most people in this country think of "work hours" as the daylight hours from 8 or so in the morning until 5 or so in the afternoon. But more than 20 million Americans work a different schedule. For many reasons, their work day either starts in the afternoon and ends late at night, or begins around midnight and ends in the early morning. If this applies to you, be aware that your safety is just as critical as the day crew, but that conditions and hazards may be different.
If you work a nonstandard shift, it may be because you need to care for family members during the day; you may have more than one job; it may be the best work you can get at the time; or you may simply prefer to work at night. Whatever the reason, you should realize that the potential for accidents and injuries tends to be significantly higher on night shifts than during the day.
Special Challenges Associated With Shift Work:
Fatigue - The Number One Shift Work Safety Problem
Your normal "body clock" wants you to be awake, alert, and productive during daytime. It can be hard to adjust to a different schedule than what your body naturally wants. People "off schedule," can feel tired and less alert. They are less likely to notice a potentially dangerous condition, or to respond quickly in an emergency. For example, more than 50,000 motor vehicle accidents per year are believed to be caused by sleepy drivers. Perhaps it's no coincidence that disasters like the Three Mile Island nuclear malfunction and the Exxon Valdez oil spill happened at night.
Tips For Dealing With Fatigue:
Engineering controls can help--such as improved lighting, ventilation, proper temperatures and noise control. But the key to dealing with fatigue lies with individual employees, who should:
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