Fatigue Impedes Productivity

April 2, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com)-Fatigue can be dangerous - at least that's what the findings of Circadian Technology's most recent Shiftwork Practices survey suggest.

According to the survey results, more than 40% of companies with around-the-clock operations view the business risks associated with fatigue as severe to moderate. At the same time, the survey found that operations managers believed employee fatigue to be the direct cause of at least 18% of all accidents and injuries suffered in their facilities.

However, more than half of the companies surveyed forbid workers from taking break time naps while on the job. In fact, 31.5% said they not only forbid naps, but would discipline workers who took them.

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Short Shift

According to Circadian Technologies, some 20% of the US working population are shiftworkers, working the majority of their hours outside the traditional Monday to Friday nine to five schedule.

The survey found that:

  • 58% of companies use fixed shift schedules,
  • 72% of companies that use 8-hour schedules used fixed shifts,
  • while 18% used rotating schedules for evenings and nights, and
  • companies that operated on 12-hour schedules are more flexible schedule, in some cases employees could take weekends off or 7-day breaks every 28 or 35 days

Results also show that:

  • 37% of employers surveyed reported their employees worked between 0-99 hours of overtime each week,
  • while 27% worked 100-199 hours of overtime, and
  • 16% performed more than 200-299 hours of overtime

To combat fatigue and improve worker health, safety and performance, respondents said they conducted training on the night shift rather than requiring employees to switch their rotations and train during the day. Others said they installed weight rooms, rotated employees and sent out health tips inserts inside workers’ pay envelopes.

The sample comprised 550 responses from 24-hour companies in the US and Canada. Respondents included manufacturing operations, utilities, hospitals, hotels, retail outlets and transportation companies.