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NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours

Improving Work Schedules

At this point, researchers cannot recommend a single best design for work schedules. Hundreds of schedule variations exist. Schedules vary in shift duration, shift start times, sequence of work days and off days, pattern of weekends off, and whether the schedule uses permanent or rotating shifts. Rotating schedules can vary by direction and speed of the rotation.

Speed of Shift Rotation:

How quickly the work shift times change

Fast rotation – involves working different shifts within the same week (for example, day shift for two days, evening shift for the next two days, night shift for one day, and then two days off).

Slow rotation – involves working each shift for two weeks or more (for example, two weeks of day shifts followed by two weeks of evening shifts).

Weekly rotation – involves working one week of days, followed by one week of night shifts, for example.


Direction of Rotation:

Order of shifts worked in relation to time of day

Forward rotation – involves moving from day shift to evening shift to night shift.

Backward rotation – involves moving from night shift to evening shift to day shift.

Module: 5, Page 4 of 20