Extended work shifts: Do they put workers at risk?

By: Ray Chishti

Publication: Construction Regulatory Alert

Date Posted: 09/04/2020

Construction workers work extended to supplement their holiday budgets

When the holiday season approaches, many construction workers work extended or extra work shifts to supplement their holiday budgets. This isn’t particularly unusual this time of year, but jobsites should be aware of the risks when it comes to worker safety. According to a study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a pattern of deteriorating performance and increased injuries is associated with work periods that exceed eight hours a day, five days a week.

What workers should know about extended work shifts

  • Extended or unusual work shifts may be more stressful physically, mentally, and emotionally.
  • Non-traditional shifts and extended work hours may disrupt the body’s regular schedule, leading to increased fatigue, stress, and lack of concentration.
  • Acclimatization to night work will not occur and disrupted sleep patterns don’t provide full recovery, resulting in sleep deprivation.
  • Fatigue is a message to the body to rest. If rest isn’t possible, fatigue can increase until it becomes distressing and eventually debilitating.
  • Symptoms of fatigue include irritability, increased susceptibility to illness, depression, headache, loss of appetite, or weariness.

Key to remember: Jobsites need to control their workers’ overtime and extended shifts to ensure that they’re not fatigued. Fatigue can lead to irritability, increased susceptibility to illness, depression, headache, loss of appetite, or weariness.

About the author
Ray Chishti - EH&S Editor

Ray is an editor at  J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. and has over 12 years of EH&S experience in a variety of industries, including EPC projects, fossil fuel power plants, gas distribution and transmission, and electrical transmission work.

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