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How important are the social effects of shiftwork?

Wedderburn AA
The twenty-four hour workday: proceedings of a symposium on variations in work-sleep schedules. Johnson LC, Texas DI, Colquhoun WP, Colligan MJ, eds. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 81-127, 1981 Jul; :321-333
Shift workers' (SWs) complaints, severity and relative importance of social effects, and interaction of physical and social factors in shiftwork were studied. The study included 315 production and ancillary workers in the British steel industry. The subjects were mostly mature, married, male workers with long experience on a three/shift schedule. Two shift systems were employed. In one, crews rapidly rotated from morning to afternoon to night shifts and to days off. The second system involved four or five of each shift type which was worked consecutively. One group worked six of each shift type followed by 2 days off. A sizable fraction of this group was critical of their shift system. Overall, 18 percent of workers liked shift work very much, 29 percent liked it more than disliked, 22 percent were neutral, 23 percent disliked it, and 8 percent disliked it very much. Most workers, 61 percent, complained about effects of shiftwork on social life, 47 percent about irregular sleeping times, 44 percent about working at night, 38 percent about irregular meal times, 35 percent about early rising, 17 percent about effects on health, and 9 percent had no dislikes. Attitudes toward health effects were inconsistent and contradictory. The most widely felt disadvantage was weekend work, followed by effects on social life, watching sports, attending social organizations, planning social activities, and following regular television series. The majority of SWs felt they were better off with higher pay and more free time. Married SWs with no children liked shiftwork best and those with children under 5 liked it least. The author states that the interaction of the pair bond relationship with shiftwork is too complex to make any strong conclusions.
Shift-work; Men; Steelworkers; Sociological-factors; Psychophysiology; Job-rotation; Health-hazards; Sleep-deprivation
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Johnson LC; Texas DI; Colquhoun WP; Colligan MJ
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 81-127
Source Name
The twenty-four hour workday: proceedings of a symposium on variations in work-sleep schedules
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division