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Plain language about shiftwork.

Rosa RR; Colligan MJ
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-145, 1997 Jul; :1-44
Basic facts about shiftwork and suggestions for making life while on shift work easier were provided. General topics discussed included how to examine work schedules, health and safety effects of shiftwork, improving shiftwork through the organization, and coping strategies for the individual. Important factors to consider included shift length, how many shifts between rest days, how many rest days are on weekends, overtime, rest is taken between shifts, rest is taken during the shift, and whether the work schedule is regular and predictable. Shiftwork has immediate effects on sleep habits; attendant sleep loss makes it far easier to fall asleep at inappropriate times, affecting a worker's ability to perform safely and efficiently. The internal circadian rhythm affects how alert people feel, which in turn affects their ability to perform. Workers performing poorly are more likely to make errors that could result in accidents or injuries. Psychological concerns include missing out on family and social activities. Long term health effects include digestive problems and heart disease. Suggestions were offered to improve shift work schedule design. Coping strategies for the individual included getting enough good sleep, protecting sleep time, getting exercise, using relaxation techniques, maintaining a proper diet, using bright light to change peak alertness periods, and avoiding overuse of caffeine, alcohol or other drugs.
NIOSH-Author; Shift-workers; Shift-work; Sleep-disorders; Sleep-deprivation; Task-performance; Work-intervals; Work-performance
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DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-145
NIOSH Division
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division