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NIOSH Training for Nurses on Shift Work and Long Work Hours

Organizational Improvements

You can implement several strategies to reduce the burdens/risks of long work hours and shift work for your staff: 21,26

  • If possible, reduce demanding tasks during times when nurses may be at higher risk for fatigue: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.; after the ninth hour of a work shift; and night shifts, particularly 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Maintain adequate environmental conditions (heat, air conditioning, lighting) across all work times. Consulting with a human factors engineer or architect can be helpful to measure and design lighting that promotes alertness during the night shift.
  • Schedule the following to accommodate evening and night shift workers so they do not need to interrupt their optimal sleep times:
    • health care and counseling
    • training and administrative meetings
    • social programs
  • Night nurses are often very tired at the end of their work shifts so it is best to find another time to hold staff meetings with them.
  • During night shifts and other difficult schedule times, it is helpful to schedule two or more workers per area so that they can promote each other’s alertness.
Module: 5, Page 13 of 20