You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience
Recent reports suggest that shift work can be damaging to health and wellbeing. As well as leaving you tired, the knock on effects can leave you susceptible to illnesses and affect your effectiveness on the job.
Data shows that 33% of men and 22% of women in the UK workers are employed in shift work or are working what are designated extended hours. Shift work is defined as employment that starts prior to 8am or finishes after 6pm. It can also relate to work that creates a change to normal sleep patterns. Extended hours are periods of work that last longer than 8 hours and that can lead to a reduction in sleep.
For many workers in healthcare and nursing, shift work is a necessary evil, and can’t be avoided.
Whilst recent reports centre on the detrimental effects of shift working, we look at ways to keep alert and awake whilst at work. It is possible to remain healthy when working shifts or extended hours but workers should be ready to make adjustments to their normal routines and be aware of the implications of not getting enough sleep and not taking care of their bodies.
Your performance can diminish drastically after being awake in excess of 16 hours. After 17 hours behaviour can be similar to that of someone with a blood alcohol level of 50mg per 100ml. Indeed at the legal alcohol level of 80mg the possibility of an accident increases threefold, translate that to your performance at work and the importance of maintaining sleep levels is obvious.
Shift work dictates that at some point you will be required to work at times when naturally your body should be resting. The disruption to your body clock can lead to fatigue and subsequently accidents, which in some shift work environments are most common between midnight and dawn. It is calculated that on average, night shift workers lose 1 – 1.5 hours’ sleep in every 24 hour period. Although you can never catch up on sleep, two consecutive nights sleep with a normal day in-between will amount to some form of compensation.
There are a number of ways that employers can look to ensure that shift workers remain healthy and alert. Talking to workers about balancing different needs and evaluating the effect of current arrangements will help to highlight problems and hopefully find solutions. Other ways employers can help include –
Employees who work long hours or who work shifts can take a number of steps to ensure that they can cope with the impact on their body clock.
Tips for the workplace include:
Tips for the home to help you prepare for shift working:
Recent reports paint a pretty grim picture of the effects of shift working and although these points should be recognised and respected, following some of the points above and doing your own research will help to cancel out many of the negatives. Above all take note of the warnings and indicators that your body sends you and act on them. Your body will naturally tell you when you are tired, need to rest, eat or take a drink. Shift work may be the best option for you and your family, and can be safe, healthy and rewarding.
If you are an employer looking for staff or a candidate seeking job opportunities then Safehands Recruitment can help you. We specialise in supplying staff into Health and Social Care environments.
At Safehands Recruitment, candidates are our lifeblood and if you are looking for temporary or permanent work we would like to hear from you.
Our commitment is to provide you with the best employment opportunities we can. We understand how important it is to match the right job with the right candidate.
You can also follow Safehands Recruitment on: