Home - 10 tips to manage the risks of shift work

UpdatesOct 21, 2014

10 tips to manage the risks of shift work

Depending on your business, it may be necessary to have some or all of your staff engaged in shift work, especially in industries such as hospitality, transport and logistics.

Shift work involves rostering workers throughout a 24-hour period (e.g. 8-hour shifts to cover the morning, afternoon and night) and/or giving workers extended shifts (e.g. 12-hour shifts).

By Joanna Weekes

Depending on your business, it may be necessary to have some or all of your staff engaged in shift work, especially in industries such as hospitality, transport and logistics.

Shift work involves rostering workers throughout a 24-hour period (e.g. 8-hour shifts to cover the morning, afternoon and night) and/or giving workers extended shifts (e.g. 12-hour shifts).

Shift work can pose significant health and safety risks as well as organisational risks that you need to manage.

Your obligation to minimise the risks associated with shift work stems from your general duty to provide safe systems of work and a safe working environment for all your workers.

You should take every reasonably practicable step to reduce the risks for shift workers, both while they are at work, and while travelling to and from work.

It’s important to give shift workers sufficient breaks during their shifts and scheduled days off so they have adequate time to rest and recover. What health and safety risks are associated with shift work?

Shift work can have negative effects on a person’s health. For instance, working at night and sleeping during the day can disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are the body’s natural cycles that control a person’s appetite, sleep, mood and energy level.

Interfering with a person’s circadian rhythms can result in:

Shift work also has organisational risks
Workers are at their least competent and watchful at the end of a shift.

Fatigued workers are more likely to make mistakes and to have poor concentration and response times.

Workers at the end of a long shift who are responsible for part of a worksite might:

10 tips for managing shift work

Follow these 10 tips to effectively manage shift workers:

For more information about how to reduce the risks for shift workers, refer to chapter S6 Shift Work in your Health & Safety Handbook.

Have a great week,

Joanna Weekes
Editor
Health & Safety Bulletin

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