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Friday, 10 July 2015 14:36

5 Tips for Managing 24/7 Operations

managing shift work operations

Managing 24/7 operations comes with a host of challenges that many daytime-only operations don’t have to consider. Based on our expertise in 24/7 workforce solutions, here are five useful tips for managing 24/7 operations.

TIP 1: Examine your business reasons for operating around-the-clock

Many operations involve processes that require the operation to run continuously – however, some operations have a choice, one that is often made largely on economic grounds.

A variety of factors should be taken into consideration when deciding on whether or not to run operations continuously (i.e. 24-hours a day).

There are many compelling economic advantages to running nonstop, 24/7 operations, including: increased utilization of capital investment, improvements in customer service, and reduced pay-back time for investments in automation.

Each of these provide a sizable operational advantage, especially when labor costs are a small percentage of the total budget. Additionally, if the alternative to running continuous operations is to purchase major equipment or build a new plant, the financial advantages of running nonstop can be considerable.

Financial disadvantages of running 24/7 operations include potentially significant excess costs due to employee fatigue, which can emerge as increased errors, accidents, legal liability, turnover, health care costs, labor relations, and absenteeism. Remember – just one serious error of inattention by a sleepy employee can cost a company millions or even billions of dollars.

In many organizations, the costs of human fatigue are hidden costs buried in the budgets of the operation – however, these very real costs should be quantified and included in decision-making processes.

It’s critical that the financial implications are calculated for both major fatigue-related accidents and the cumulative costs of smaller fatigue-induced errors that reduce productivity, impair quality, damage equipment and increase scrap and rework.

TIP 2: Recognize and respect the limits of the “human machine”

We are taught that people should not be treated like machines; however, if we thought of people as highly complex machines, we might have a greater respect for their limitations.

Machines have design specifications and operating manuals that tell us the conditions under which we can use them. The human body is an exceedingly complex machine with very constrained performance limits, which we must respect if we are to reliably perform the tasks modern society demands.

We’re not designed to operate continuously around-the-clock, or on irregular schedules, or with consistent performance no matter the time of day or night. Human performance doesn’t occur linearly.

With these and many other such limits to human physiology in mind, think carefully about the tasks you are expecting people to perform, the work and rest schedules you expect them to live, and the workplace conditions you have created for them. Are you respecting and adapting to human physiological limits and building on the strengths of the human machine, or are you setting up your shiftworkers for failure or impaired performance?

TIP 3: Educate your workforce on the biological basis of shift work challenges

When it comes to managing people in continuous operations, supervisors and managers can incorrectly rely on intuition when assessing and addressing the needs of shift workers.

For an operation to run safely, it’s important that both management and workers understand the physiological principles of alertness, sleep, fatigue and circadian rhythms. Education can be provided with formal training about human sleep and alertness physiology – supplemented by readings, manuals, classes, online training, and/or seminars.

With an understanding of basic human physiology, managers and supervisors can make educated decisions that will enhance the alertness, effectiveness and health of your 24/7 workforce, rather than unintentionally undermine them.

TIP 4: Position fatigue risk management as a win-win for labor and management

Effective fatigue risk management systems (FRMS) require that management and employees work together cooperatively to combat the root causes of fatigue. This is essential because part of the solution lies in the employees’ hands and part is controlled by management.

CIRCADIAN experts agree that an FRMS can be launched even under the most difficult labor-management relations, as long as the win-win nature of the outcome is fully communicated and understood.

Considerable benefits exist for employees including improved sleep, quality of life, health and well-being. Likewise for management, major improvements can be achieved in safety, quality, productivity, employee morale and plant performance – all of which impact the bottom line.

The challenge, of course, is to build trust between management and employees to the point where all levels of management and all employees (and their union representatives if the facility is organized) can listen to and understand the win-win outcomes that are possible.

Neutral, third-party experts can provide the credibility and trust needed to implement an effective FRMS and can aid in communications between management and workers to ease underlying tensions.

TIP 5: Build a seamless continuous operations culture

Running a successful 24/7 operation requires a full commitment to the development of a continuous operations culture – where Wednesday afternoon is no different from Sunday night.

This is a challenge for many operations, as life is different on all shifts, especially in a fixed shift environment. How do you create one culture? One set of values? One operating standard?

Are all shifts supported equally? If not, problems can emerge in terms of employee morale, operational safety, productivity, and quality control due to differing levels of attention, training, supervision, experience, and/or motivation across various crews.

Professionalizing your entire 24-hour operation requires building a unified culture, where the corporate mission is well-defined, and standards and policies are uniformly applied 168 hours a week.

The end goal is to retain employees who see their jobs as a full-time commitment, who develop a loyalty to the entire operation and not just one crew, and who can move from crew to crew when necessary.

To earn this degree of employee commitment, an operation must make a sincere commitment to the safety and health of the entire workforce – all crews, at all hours. This is the only way in which an operation can develop a seamless, continuous operations culture.

Want to learn more about managing 24/7 operations?

Download the free CIRCADIAN white paper, “Reducing the Costs of Continuous Operating Schedules”.

shift work costs and management

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About CIRCADIAN®

CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock. Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research and technology, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations in the 24-hour economy optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of their extended hours operations.

Sleep deprivation is an issue that is often ignored, yet frequently the root cause of decreased productivity, accidents, incidents and mistakes which costs the global workforce billions of dollars each year.

Often times, managers and supervisors misattribute fatigue-related operational errors as isolated events caused by a single individual, rather than a systematic failure. Other times, increased accident rates and workforce problems are dismissed as being unrelated to worker fatigue.

Using logic presented by James Reason, a distinguished professor of psychology at The University of Manchester and author of many important books, including Human Error (1990), we can better understand the root cause of fatigue-related errors.

Analyzing Fatigue-Related Errors with Reason

James Reason proposed two possible approaches to the problem of human error: the person approach and the system approach.

The person approach focuses on the premise that an error is caused by a single individual, whether it be due to forgetfulness, inattention, negligence, and other personal lapses.

The system approach focuses on the premise that humans are fallible and errors are to be expected; therefore, errors are consequences of systematic failures and the root cause of errors ultimately falls on the system rather than the individual.

Reason developed the Swiss cheese model of accident causation to illustrate that although multiple layers of defense lie between hazards and accidents, flaws, or ‘holes’, can exist in each layer. When these “holes” align, a pathway emerges for accidents to occur (Figure 1).

Figure 1. James Reason’s Swiss Cheese Model
James Reason Swiss Cheese Model

Given the nature of operational defenses, holes in the defense layers are dynamic and constantly opening, closing, and shifting within an organization – requiring an organization to continually re-evaluate the integrity of their defense systems.

Using Reason’s logic, operational control should be focused on changing the conditions under which individuals work rather than trying to change each individual. Under this model, incident investigation should focus not on who made an error, but rather how and why the systematic defenses failed to prevent the incident.

The How and Why of Human Error

Holes in the defense layers arise from two outcomes: active failures and latent conditions. Active failures are the dangerous acts of individuals – such as: lapses, errors, or procedural deviations. The impact of active failures on the integrity of a defense system are usually temporary.

Latent conditions are the result of decisions made by the management team of an organization. These decisions may lead to unfavorable conditions – such as understaffing and excessive overtime – that can lead to long-lasting weaknesses in the defenses (i.e. fatigued workers, unworkable procedures). Latent conditions can go unnoticed or ignored for many years, even though latent conditions are generally easier to identify and rectify than active failures.

Applying the Swiss Cheese Model to Fatigue Management

When applying Reason’s logic to fatigue management, a fatigue-related accident or incident is the end point of a causal chain of successive lapses in a defense system.

At the end of the day, both an organization and its employees share a responsibility to prevent fatigue to maintain a safe operation.

An organization is responsible for developing a comprehensive defense system against fatigue; while its employees are responsible for arriving to work alert and fit-for-duty.

Developing an Effective Fatigue Risk Management System

A fatigue risk management system (FRMS) is a data-driven, risk-informed, safety performance-based program that reduces the risk of fatigue-related incidents in 24/7 operations. An FRMS continually monitors and reduces fatigue risk from both an organizational and individual approach.

An effective FRMS builds upon organizational policies and procedures to monitor, mitigate, and report worker fatigue and fatigue-related incidences.

When developing or reviewing an FRMS, an opportunity exists to identify the presence (or absence) of necessary defense mechanisms in the FRMS. A fully integrated FRMS provides five equally-critical layers of defense (Figure 2):

  1. Workload-staffing balance
  2. Shift schedule optimization
  3. Employee fatigue training and sleep disorder management
  4. Workplace environmental design
  5. Fatigue monitoring and alertness for duty

Figure 2. CIRCADIAN® 5 Defenses FRMS DesignFRMS

A successful FRMS also has the following seven key characteristics (Lerman et al.):

  1. Science based – Supported by established peer-reviewed science

  2. Data driven – Decisions based on collection and objective analysis of data

  3. Cooperative -- Designed together by all stakeholders

  4. Fully Implemented – System-wide use of tools, systems, policies, procedures

  5. Integrated -- Built into the corporate safety & health management systems

  6. Continuously improved – Progressively reduces risk using feedback, evaluation & modification

  7. Owned – Responsibility accepted by the entire management team of an organization

The seventh key characteristic, management ownership, is particularly critical as the development, implementation, and management of a FRMS requires the involvement of multiple departments of an organization.

Because of this, it’s important that the entire management team of an organization embraces a commitment to fatigue risk management as a critical component to the organization's overall safety and health management system.

Through properly implementing a comprehensive FRMS, an organization stands to significantly reduce the safety risks and profit losses associated with fatigue in a way that provides a win-win scenario for both management and workers.

White Paper: Evolution of Fatigue Risk Management Systems

Download your copy of our white paper “Evolution of Fatigue Risk Management: The “Tipping Point” of Employee Fatigue Mitigation” to learn more about implementing operational defenses against fatigue.

Fatigue Risk Management White Paperdownload fatigue risk management white paper

About CIRCADIAN®

CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock. Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research and technology, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations in the 24-hour economy optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of their extended hours operations.

Fatigue Risk Management System

Tuesday, 14 April 2015 14:48

Workforce Fatigue: 5 Must-See Graphs

1. Fatigue levels and worker’s compensation costs

CIRCADIAN’s Shiftwork Practices Survey revealed that fatigued workers exhibit up to 4x the worker’s compensation costs as compared to non-fatigued workers.1

Figure 1 shows the average cost of worker compensation claims per employee per year paid in 24/7 industrial and transportation operations with levels of employee fatigue ranking from low to high.1

Figure 1. Fatigue Levels and Worker’s Compensation Costs1

worker fatigue and workers compensation costs
 

2. Prolonged wakefulness compared to alcohol use: effects on alertness

Sustained wakefulness has been found to produce lapses in behavioral functioning that are comparable to alcohol intoxication.

One study found that after 22 hours of sustained wakefulness, participants’ performance on tests such as reaction time, reasoning ability, and task accuracy were comparable to performance with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% (Figure 2).2

Authors concluded that the study results suggested that “moderate levels of fatigue produce performance equivalent to or greater than those observed at levels of alcohol intoxication deemed unacceptable when driving, working and/or operating dangerous equipment”.2

Figure 2. Prolonged wakefulness compared to alcohol use: effects on alertness2
sustained wakefulness vs alcohol use

3. Sleep deprivation and reaction time

Research has demonstrated that reaction time slows following sleep deprivation.3

In one study, subjects were tested on their reaction time to a visual cue. Reaction time is not only slower following sleep deprivation, but as time on task increases, reaction time deteriorates at a steeper rate following sleep deprivation than following adequate sleep (Figure 3).3

 Figure 3. Sleep deprivation and reaction time3
sleep deprivation and reaction time

4. Shiftwork adaptation & fatigue

A person’s “circadian profile” tends to affect his or her ability to adapt to shiftwork. Three main characteristics of circadian profiles have been extensively evaluated: morningness/eveningness, flexibility of sleeping habits, and one’s ability to overcome drowsiness. Both flexibility of sleep habits and ability to overcome drowsiness are associated with better long term adaptation to shiftwork.4

According to CIRCADIAN’s shiftwork database, non-adapted workers report feeling drowsy and nodding off while working 3x more often than adapted workers and also reported making mistakes 4x more frequently than adapted workers (Figure 4).4

Figure 4. Shiftwork Adaptation & Feelings of Fatigue4
fatigue accidents and shiftwork adaptation

5. Fatigue & lost work time

Based on results from the Health & Work Performance Questionnaire (HPQ) – sleep disorders, depression, and fatigue are the three biggest contributors to lost work time (Figure 5).5 The HPQ is an employee self-report tool that assesses 29 chronic health conditions and includes questions related to accidents, injuries, and work performance.

Lost work time in this study included both absenteeism and presenteeism – which is defined as time spent at work focusing on non-work-related tasks. Results from this cross-sectional survey of health and productivity are based on 1,147 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) employees at two DOE national laboratories.

Figure 5. Lost Work Time from Chronic Health Conditions5
lost work time fatigue insomnia sleep deprivation

Is fatigue impacting your workforce?

It can be challenging to determine if fatigue is negatively impacting your workforce. Some tell-tale signs of worker fatigue issues can include:

  • High worker’s compensation costs
  • High rates of errors and accidents
  • Sluggish employees
  • Heavy caffeine/nicotine consumption among workers
  • Lowered productivity
  • Increased absenteeism rates (especially unexpected absenteeism)

To learn more about fatigue and its impact on 24/7 operations, download our FREE white paper:

The Myths & Realities of Fatigue

Reducing the Costs, Risks, and Liabilities of Fatigue in 24-Hour Operations
myths and realities of worker fatigue
download white paper now

CIRCADIAN® FRMS and 24/7 Workforce Solutions

CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock. Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research and technology, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations in the 24-hour economy optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of their extended hours operations.

Fatigue risk management systems and solutions

Thursday, 19 February 2015 22:17

3 Reasons to Address Worker Fatigue ASAP

tired worker - male - daytime
Worker fatigue may be an issue in your operation – whether you're aware of it or not.
One-third of workforce managers believe that fatigue is a moderate or severe problem among their workers.1
To some, fatigue might seem like a minor concern, yet it costs companies millions of dollars each year in excess costs, accidents and errors.
Here are three reasons to immediately address worker fatigue in your operation:
  1. Fatigued workers cost employers $136.4 billion annually in health-related lost productive time (absenteeism and presenteeism), almost 4x more costly than their non-fatigued counterparts.2
  2. Fatigued workers exhibit up to 4x the worker’s compensation costs as compared to non-fatigued workers (Figure 1).3Workers Compensation  Fatigue
  3. Studies have found that severe stress and fatigue problems reduce worker productivity by up to 10% (Figure 2).3

The Take-away

People don’t release smoke, grind gears, or have pieces fall off; but their equivalents – fatigue, error, injury, and ill health – do result in failure and breakdown."  - Dr. Martin Moore-Ede, The Twenty-Four-Hour Society


The Solution

Reduce the costs, risks, and liabilities of fatigue within your 24/7 operation by implementing a customized shift scheduling system that accounts for:

  • business goals

  • operational constraints

  • employee preferences

  • ergonomic (physiological and sociological) criteria

A one-size-fits-all solution to the challenges of 24/7 operations simply does not exist.

The "ideal" solution depends on many factors including the makeup of one's workforce (employee demographics), the nature of the work, local customs and culture, commuting issues, type of industry, corporate policies, state and federal laws, and much more.

FREE White Paper – Biocompatible Shift Scheduling

Download our FREE white paper, "Biocompatible Shift Scheduling", to learn from CIRCADIAN experts about the key components of best shift scheduling practices. Topics covered include:

  • Number of consecutive work days
  • Duration of shifts
  • Start/end of shift times
  • Fixed vs rotating schedules
  • Speed of rotation

WP-Biocompatible-Shift-SchedulingdownloadAbout CIRCADIAN

CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock.  Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research and technology, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations with traditional and/or extended operating hours optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of sleep deprivation and fatigue.

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References

  1. CIRCADIAN (2007). Shiftwork Practices 2007.
  2. Ricci, J. A., Chee, E., Lorandeau, A. L., & Berger, J. (2007). Fatigue in the US workforce: prevalence and implications for lost productive work time. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 49(1), 1-10.
  3. CIRCADIAN (2005). Shiftwork Practices 2005.



Friday, 19 December 2014 17:02

Top 10 Shift Work Myths

Myth #1 – Overtime within your workforce is evenly distributed

Best practices suggest that when overtime is equally distributed across a workforce, up to approximately 12% overtime is an acceptable rate. However, overtime rates vary across industries, companies and employees.

Research indicates that in many industries, 20% of employees work 60% or more of the overtime (Figure 4).1

Figure 4. Actual distribution of overtime at an extended hours facility.1Overtime distribution

Since accidents and safety problems can be caused by one fatigued employee, the risk of an accident occurring can rise as the distribution of overtime becomes increasingly skewed.

The imbalance exposes the pool of high overtime employees to extra health risks, and exposes the company to increased absenteeism costs, health care costs, safety issues, and legal liability.

Myth #2 – Employee productivity increases linearly

Studies and reports suggest that productivity can suffer with increased overtime hours.

Data from 18 manufacturing industries in the U.S. shows that for most of these industries, productivity (measured as output per hour) declines when overtime is used.2

On average, a 10% increase in overtime results in a 2.4% decrease in productivity (more output is achieved, but the number of hours worked increases as well—not as much output per hour is realized).

This performance decline is confirmed by the work of J. Nevison of Oak Associates. In his white paper, Nevison brings together scientific, business, and government data to demonstrate that little productive work takes place over and above 50 hours per week (Figure 2)3. Two other studies, also examined in the white paper, show that productive hours drop by an additional 10 hours when the number of consecutive long workweeks increases from four to 12, highlighting the cumulative effects that overtime can have on productivity.

Figure 2. Productive vs. actual work hours, from a collection of four studies4
overtime and productivity

Myth #3 – Adequate staffing means having enough employees to cover permanent positions

Often overlooked are the real drivers of overtime in 24/7 operations. In any given week, employees may not be available to fill their scheduled shifts because of multiple reasons including:

  • Vacation days
  • Floating holidays
  • Sickness related absenteeism
  • Non-sickness related absenteeism/personal days
  • Injury-related absenteeism
  • Training
  • Special work assignments (committees, team building, projects, etc.)
  • Jury duty, bereavement, FMLA, etc.
  • Turnover/delays in filling position with adequately trained employees

Many 24/7 operations do not realistically estimate or measure the full impact of these factors and hence run their shifts with fewer staff than needed, effectively increasing the relief coverage requirement (i.e. overtime) and impacting the time on duty and off duty of their personnel.

Furthermore, many companies do not monitor and analyze their historical payroll and human resources data so that they are unable to make even simple forecasts about scheduled and unscheduled absenteeism. Without this data, they are unable to accurately define seasonal, weekly and daily fluctuations in coverage demand.

Based on CIRCADIAN's 2014 Shiftwork Practices data, we found that the "leaner" operations (i.e. reduced staffing levels) reported higher absenteeism rates (Figure 1).

Interestingly, over 50% of all unscheduled absences are due to either: personal needs, stress, or an entitlement mentality (i.e. “I’ve earned it”).5

Figure 1. Staffing Levels & Absenteeism Rate 5absenteeism and staffing levels

Myth #4 – Operational decisions on shift scheduling are best if mandated by management.

Management-mandated work schedules often prevent an operation from reaching its full potential in terms of operational costs, productivity, efficiency, and safety.

Employee participation is just as important in the process of designing and implementing the new work schedule as the characteristics of the new work schedule itself.6-9

Surveys suggest that management-mandated work schedules can lead to:10

  • Increased absenteeism
  • Excessive overtime costs
  • Increased health problems and fatigue
  • Decreased morale
  • Increased turnover costs
  • Recruitment problems

Studies comparing methods of shift schedule selection have found that employee involvement in schedule redesign increases the benefits of schedule redesign considerably, as compared to management-mandated schedule changes. These benefits include:11-18

  • Increased worker satisfaction with schedule design
  • Decreased unscheduled absences from illness
  • Improved physical and psychological vigor
  • Decreased turnover and number of vacant positions
  • Increased organizational commitment
  • Improved employee and management relations

Myth #5 – If a shift schedule works well at our other plant, it will work for us here.

This is a common misconception in companies with multiple facility locations. A shift schedule that’s effective and well-liked at one facility can cause disagreements and tension among workers at a seemingly identical facility.

Shift schedules need to be based on the social, operational and physiological needs of the workforce and managers at each specific company site. Some factors to consider include:

  • Geographic location
  • The lifestyles of workers
  • Cultural differences
  • Worker demographics

These factors can greatly impact the popularity of different shift schedules among workers. For example, avoiding rush hour traffic is often important to workers in large cities, whereas workers in rural areas might prefer longer spans of days off.

Best shift scheduling practices suggest choosing a schedule with features that support the priorities of workers at each individual facility.

Pleasing everyone may be impossible, but having the majority of workers in favor of a new shift schedule will greatly increase the likelihood of a successful schedule change.

Myth #6 – Given the choice, workers always select the best schedule for them and the worst for the company.

Much conflict between management and shiftworkers is the result of misunderstanding and poor communication.

Management often feels that it is doing its part by “telling,” rather than both telling and listening to the needs of workers. Workers may feel that they’re providing valuable insight, but management only hears the complaints. As a result, management may feel that workers only care about themselves and making money.

While the occasional worker may try to game the system, most workers are truly concerned with the well-being of the company. After all, workers realize that any problem that the company faces will ultimately affect them. In light of this, most workers will choose a schedule that will satisfy the company while still fulfilling their individual needs.

The best way to ensure that workers understand the reasons for making any scheduling changes is by keeping them informed. This can be accomplished through company-wide meetings or events, as well as through regular emails or letters about the general state of the company.

Myth #7 – Falling asleep on the job is a matter of willpower

While curling up with a pillow and blanket at work is clearly deliberate, many fatigued individuals unknowingly experience microsleeps while working. A microsleep is a brief sleep episode that lasts up to 30 seconds, during which a person temporarily loses consciousness and external stimuli aren’t perceived.19

Individuals who experience microsleeps are often unaware that they briefly lost consciousness and will frequently deny that they fell asleep.20 When an individual arouses from a microsleep episode, it may feel like a brief lapse in attention or mind wandering.

Research suggests that even individual neurons can experience microsleeps, which means that your parts of the brain may be “offline” even if you’re seemingly awake.21

Microsleeps are most commonly associated with sleep deprivation and driving; however, microsleeps can also occur in the absence of sleep deprivation when completing monotonous, repetitive tasks.

Myth #8 – Napping during work is a lazy and unacceptable behavior

Before you write off napping as a leisurely activity that should be banned at work, you might want to consider the ways in which napping at your workplace can improve the alertness and productivity of workers.

Ten minute power naps provide immediate benefits upon awakening and boosts in performance that can last up to 4 hours!

Ten minute naps have been shown to: decrease fatigue, increase vigor, improve performance, improve communication, decrease blood pressure, improve reaction time, improve subject well-being, and increase alertness.

Longer naps that last 90 minutes (or longer) still offer many restorative benefits; however, they are not as efficient as power naps. Longer naps allow for memory consolidation and therefore have been shown to improve memory. Extended napping is frequently associated with profound sleep inertia, which can be crippling to productivity. In order to avoid the sleep inertia of long naps, it's advised to sleep a full 90 min sleep cycle in order to wake up at the lightest sleep stage.

Myth # 9 – Hours of service requirements are sufficient for mitigating employee fatigue

Most fatigue regulations start and end with hours of service policies. While this is a good starting place, it fails to address all of the factors that contribute to fatigue. To ensure the alertness of workers, a comprehensive fatigue risk management system (FRMS) needs to be in place.

CIRCADIAN® 5 Defenses FRMS Design

Fatigue risk management system

A fatigue risk management system (FRMS) is a data-driven, risk-informed, safety performance-based program that reduces the risk of fatigue-related incidents in 24/7 operations. An FRMS will continually monitor and reduce fatigue risk.

Workforces that have implemented fatigue risk management systems experience fewer problems with absenteeism, turnover and excessive overtime. Employees in these workforces have greater morale, less stress, and are more productive workers.

Myth #10 – There’s very little financial ROI with fatigue risk management

To some, fatigue might seem like a minor concern, yet it costs companies millions of dollars each year in excess costs, accidents and errors.

Fatigued workers cost employers $136.4 billion annually in health-related lost productive time (absenteeism and presenteeism), almost 4x more than their non-fatigued counterparts.22

Fatigued workers exhibit up to 4x the worker’s compensation costs as compared to non-fatigued workers (Figure 3).24 A recent meta-analysis of 27 observational studies found that sleep problems increase the risk of workplace injuries by 62 percent.23

Figure 3. Fatigue Levels & Worker’s Compensation24

fatigue and worker compensation Addressing and mitigating fatigue within an operation can significantly decrease excess costs related to: absenteeism, turnover, accidents, and healthcare.

fatigue risk management system savings

 

Debunk Other Shift Work Myths

Explore the variety of CIRCADIAN white papers that cover an assortment of 24/7 workforce topics including:

  • Shift Scheduling
  • Staffing Levels
  • Fatigue Risk Management Systems
  • Shiftwork Lifestyle Training
  • And much more!

white papers

 






REFERENCES

  1. CIRCADIAN databases
  2. Shepard E, Clifton T. Are Long Hours Reducing Productivity in Manufacturing. International Journal of Manpower 2000; 7.
  3. Nevison, J. Overtime Hours: The Rule of Fifty
  4. Permission from Nevison, Oak Associates.
  5. CIRCADIAN. 2014 Shiftwork Practices.
  6. Hauburger. Implementation of self-scheduling in the poison center. Vet. Hum. Toxicol. 39(3),175-7. 1997.
  7. Knauth P.The design of shift systems. Ergonomics 36(1-3),15-28. 1993.
  8. Knauth P. Changing schedules: shiftwork. Chronobiol. Int. 14(2),159-71. 1997.
  9. Kogi K, Di Martino VG. Trends in participatory process of changing shiftwork arrangements. Work & Stress 9 (2/3), 298-304. 1995.
  10. Circadian Technologies, Shiftwork Practices Survey 2002.
  11. Ala-Mursula et al. Employee control over working times: associations with subjective health and sickness absences. J. Epidemiol. Community Health 56(4),272-8. 2002.
  12. Beltzhoover M. Self-scheduling: an innovative approach. Nurs. Manage. 25(4),81-2. 1994.
  13. Bradley, Martin. Continuous personnel scheduling algorithms: a literature review. J. Soc. Health Syst. 2(2),8-23. 1991.
  14. Holtom et al. The relationship between work status congruence and work-related attitudes and behaviors. J. Appl. Psychol. 87(5),903-15. 2002.
  15. Moore-Ede M. The Twenty-Four Hour Society: Understanding Human Limits in a World that Never Sleeps. 1994.
  16. Smith PA et al. Change from slowly rotating 8-hour shifts to rapidly rotating 8-hour and 12-hour shifts using participative shift roster design. Scand. J. Work Environ. Health. 24(S3), 55-61. 1998.
  17. Teahan. Implementation of a self-scheduling system: a solution to more than just schedules! J. Nurs. Manag. 6(6),361- 81. 998. Erratum in: J. Nurs. Manag. 7(1),65. 1999.
  18. Sakai K et al. Educational and intervention strategies for improving a shift system: an experience in a disabled persons' facility. Ergonomics 36(1-3),219-25. 1993.
  19. International Classification of Sleep Disorders Diagnostic and Coding Manual, http://www.esst.org/adds/ICSD.pdf, page 343.
  20. Higgins, Laura; Fette Bernie (in press). "Drowsy Driving" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-06-12.
  21. Vyazovskiy, V. V., Olcese, U., Hanlon, E. C., Nir, Y., Cirelli, C., & Tononi, G. (2011). Local sleep in awake rats. Nature, 472(7344), 443-447.
  22. Ricci, J. A., Chee, E., Lorandeau, A. L., & Berger, J. (2007). Fatigue in the US workforce: prevalence and implications for lost productive work time. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 49(1), 1-10.
  23. Katrin Uehli, Amar J. Mehta, David Miedinger, Kerstin Hug, Christian Schindler, Edith Holsboer-Trachsler, Jörg D. Leuppi, et al. (2014). Sleep problems and work injuries: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Medicine Reviews. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2013.01.004
  24. Aguirre, A. Shiftwork Practices Survey, 2005.

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In September, the American Nurses Association released a position statement regarding nurse fatigue. According to the ANA, both registered nurses and employers have a joint responsibility to “reduce risks from nurse fatigue and to create and sustain a culture of safety, a healthy work environment, and a work-life balance.”

The ANA also stated that "registered nurses and employers have an ethical responsibility to carefully consider the need for adequate rest and sleep when deciding whether to offer or accept work assignments, including on-call, voluntary, or mandatory overtime.”

Here are five reasons why you should prioritize nurse fatigue management:

1. The Prevalence of Fatigue Among Nurses

An abundance of research data on nursing fatigue exists to support the conclusion that fatigue is a serious concern for the healthcare industry.

Compared to the 7-8 hours of sleep required for optimal alertness and performance, it’s sobering that 80% of nurses get less than 6 hours of sleep prior to working a shift and 55% of nurses report that they “almost always” or “all of the time” felt fatigued during work (Scott et al., 2007; Geiger-Brown et al., 2012; Canadian Nurses Association & Registered Nurses Association, 2010).

2. High Injury Rates Among Healthcare Workers

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Association (OSHA), the healthcare and social assistance industry reported more injury and illness cases than any other private industry sector in 2011.

Fatigued workers exhibit up to 4x the workers compensation costs of non-fatigued workers, as shown in Figure 1 (CIRCADIAN, 2005).

Between 2006 and 2011, the average workers’ compensation claim for a hospital injury was found to be $15,860 among the roughly 1,000 hospitals surveyed (Aon Risk Solutions, 2012).

Figure 1. Workers Compensation Claims & Fatigue Levels
workers compensation and worker fatigue

3. High Turnover Rates & United States Nursing Shortage

There is a nursing shortages as a significant segment of the nursing workforce is nearing retirement. Experts project that more than 1 million nurses will reach retirement age in the next 10 to 15 years. This poses a major concern for members of the healthcare industry, as nursing school enrollment rates have been on a steady decline. Because of these factors, it’s become increasingly important for healthcare systems to retain nurses.

It’s no secret that high turnover rates are having serious implications on the healthcare industry, as a national survey of home healthcare agencies reported a 21% turnover rate for registered nurses (Hospital and Healthcare Compensation Services, 2000).

Interestingly, turnover rates are found to be significantly higher in workforces experiencing employee fatigue and stress problems, as seen in Figure 2 (CIRCADIAN, 2005).

Figure 2. Association between Turnover Rates and Fatigue and Stress Levels

employee turnover fatigue and stress

Replacing a nurse’s position has been estimated to cost an employer between $27,000 and $103,000 (Li & Jones, 2012). Given the high cost, fatigue risk management can be a cost-effective approach for reducing the high turnover rate among nurses.

4. Overtime & Workplace Injuries

Research looking at 110,326 U.S. job records revealed that working in jobs with overtime schedules was associated with a 61% higher injury hazard rate as compared to jobs without overtime. Working at least 12 hours per day was associated with a 37% higher injury hazard rate and working at least 60 hours per week was associated with a 23% increased hazard rate (Dembe, Erickson, & Banks, 2005).

These findings may not even account for all workplace injuries. One study found that 24% of nurses and nursing assistants changed shifts or took sick leave to recover from an unreported injury (Siddharthan, Hodgson, Rosenberg, Haiduven, & Nelson, 2006).

5. Joint Commission Statement on Fatigue

In December 2011, the Joint Commission, which accredits more than 20,000 U.S. healthcare organizations, recommended that healthcare organizations “create and implement a fatigue management plan.”

According to the Joint Commission’s Sentinel Event Alert, Health Care Worker Fatigue and Patient Safety, “There are now some evidence-based actions that healthcare organizations can take to help mitigate the risk of fatigue that results from the extended work hours – and, therefore, protect patients from preventable adverse outcomes.”

Commitment to Care

The mission statement of most healthcare organizations highlights the organization’s commitment to excellence in providing health care, patient safety, and improving the well-being of their local community.

A commitment to excellence is only truly upheld when an organization employs all possible measures to ensure unsurpassed patient care and safety. This means addressing workforce problems that impact the individual care providers, as these issues can have a domino effect that negatively impacts the quality of patient care.

If your organization isn’t addressing and managing the fatigue of the care providers, then scientific research suggests that your organization will suffer lapses in its commitment to superior patient care.

Solutions for Nurse Fatigue

To learn more about solutions for addressing, mitigating and managing nurse fatigue, download our white paper titled “Fatigued Nurses: Assessing the Risk, Implementing the Defenses

Nurse Fatigue White Paperalt
About CIRCADIAN®

CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock. Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations in 24/7 workforces optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of their extended hours operations.

REFERENCES

Aon Risk Solutions (2012). Health Care Workers Compensation Barometer.

Canadian Nurses Association & Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (2010): Nurse fatigue and patient safety research report. http://www.arnpei.ca/images/documents/ Fatigue_Safety_2010_EX%20Summary_e.pdf (retrieved February 22, 2013).

CIRCADIAN (2004). Shiftwork Practices 2004.

CIRCADIAN (2005). Shiftwork Practices 2005.

CIRCADIAN (2007). Shiftwork Practices 2007.

CIRCADIAN (2014). Shiftwork Practices 2014.

Geiger-Brown J et al. (2012): Sleep, sleepiness, fatigue, and performance of 12-hour-shift nurses. Chronobiology International 29(2): 211-219.

Hospital and Healthcare Compensation Services, Homecare Salary & Benefits Report, 2000-2001. Oakland, NJ: Hospital & Healthcare Compensation Service, 2000.

The Joint Commission (2011). Health care worker fatigue and patient safety. Sentinel Event Alert. 48.

Li , Y., & Jones, C.B. (2012). A literature review of nursing turnover costs. Journal of Nursing Management. 21(3): 405-418. (Dollar amounts presented here are adjusted to 2013 prices.

Siddharthan, K., Hodgson M., Rosenberg D., Haiduven D., and Nelson, A. (2006). Under-reporting of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in the Veterans Administration. International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance. 19(6): 463-476

 





 

Operational decisions based on shift scheduling myths can often prevent an operation from reaching its full potential in terms of operational costs, productivity, efficiency and safety.

If your operation doesn’t involve employees in work schedule changes... it may be falling prey to these myths.

Employee participation is just as important in the process of designing and implementing the new work schedule as the characteristics of the new work schedule itself.1-4

Based on 2014 Shiftwork Practices data, employee-selected work schedules and management-mandated work schedules are the two most common methods for choosing shift schedules (Figure 1).5

Schedule selection methodology can influence the degree to which the new schedule is successful.

Figure 1. Schedule Selection Methodology Across Shiftwork Operations

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Costs of Management-Mandated Work Schedules

Surveys suggest that management-mandated work schedules can lead to:6

  • Increased absenteeism
  • Excessive overtime costs
  • Increased health problems and fatigue
  • Decreased morale
  • Increased turnover costs
  • Recruitment problems

51% of managers who mandated their work schedule reported “severe workforce fatigue,” compared to only 37% of managers in facilities where employees participated in work schedule design.6

Benefits of Employee-Chosen Work Schedules

Studies comparing methods of shift schedule selection have found that employee involvement in schedule redesign increases the benefits of schedule redesign considerably, as compared to management-mandated schedule changes.

These benefits include:7-14

1. Increased worker satisfaction with schedule design

2. Decreased unscheduled absences from illness

3. Maintained teamwork among employees as well as in-role and extra-role performance on individual levels

4. Improved physical and psychological vigor

5. Improved daytime sleep quality

6. Improved quality of employees’ home and social lives

7. Decreased turnover and number of vacant positions

8. Increased organizational commitment

9. Improved employee understanding of administrative issues involved in management of the facility

10. Reduced employee complaints

Shift Schedule Selection Tips

Employee involvement in the scheduling selection process can be critical in building strong employee-level support which in turn increases productivity and helps the company bottom line.

Each employee affected by the schedule should be equally involved in its design. Although each employee will bring his or her own preferences into the process, workforce surveys can determine the significant preferences of the facility as a whole.15

The concept of trying to “please all of the people all of the time” should be openly discussed at frequent intervals in the schedule change process, with the aim to reach a compromise that satisfies the group as a whole.

Download Our Free White Paper


Shift Scheduling & Employee Involvement

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About CIRCADIAN®

CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock. Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research and technology, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations in the 24-hour economy optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of their extended hours operations.


REFERENCES

1.Hauburger. Implementation of self-scheduling in the poison center. Vet. Hum. Toxicol. 39(3),175-7. 1997.

2.Knauth P.The design of shift systems. Ergonomics 36(1-3),15-28. 1993.

3.Knauth P. Changing schedules: shiftwork. Chronobiol. Int. 14(2),159-71. 1997.

4.Kogi K, Di Martino VG. Trends in participatory process of changing shiftwork arrangements. Work & Stress 9 (2/3), 298-304. 1995.

5.CIRCADIAN, Shiftwork Practices 2014

6.Circadian Technologies, Shiftwork Practices Survey 2002.

7. Ala-Mursula et al. Employee control over working times: associations with subjective health and sickness absences. J. Epidemiol. Community Health 56(4),272-8. 2002.

8.Beltzhoover M. Self-scheduling: an innovative approach. Nurs. Manage. 25(4),81-2. 1994.

9.Bradley, Martin. Continuous personnel scheduling algorithms: a literature review. J. Soc. Health Syst. 2(2),8-23. 1991.

10.Holtom et al. The relationship between work status congruence and work-related attitudes and behaviors. J. Appl. Psychol. 87(5),903-15. 2002.

11.Moore-Ede M. The Twenty-Four Hour Society: Understanding Human Limits in a World that Never Sleeps. 1994.

12.Smith PA et al. Change from slowly rotating 8-hour shifts to rapidly rotating 8-hour and 12-hour shifts using participative shift roster design. Scand. J. Work Environ. Health. 24(S3), 55-61. 1998.

13.Teahan. Implementation of a self-scheduling system: a solution to more than just schedules! J. Nurs. Manag. 6(6),361- 81. 998. Erratum in: J. Nurs. Manag. 7(1),65. 1999.

14.Sakai K et al. Educational and intervention strategies for improving a shift system: an experience in a disabled persons' facility. Ergonomics 36(1-3),219-25. 1993.

15.Gray et al. Preferences for specific work schedules: foundation for an expert-system scheduling program. Comput. Nurs. 11(3),115-21. 1993.

Thursday, 13 November 2014 15:07

Lean Staffing: 3 Unfortunate Realities

In most 24/7 operations, there are a fixed number of positions to be filled on each shift. Because of this, staffing levels greatly impact overtime rates for employees.

Understaffing an operation requires employees to work additional hours originally allocated for off-duty activities, such as: rest, recovery, family activities, social events, and personal responsibilities.

While machines operate linearly, people do not. These off-duty activities are crucial for the emotional and physical well-being of the workers AND the bottom line of an operation.

Here are three reasons why lean staffing can be dangerous...

1. Staffing Levels are Related to Absenteeism Rates

Based on CIRCADIAN's 2014 Shiftwork Practices data, we found that the "leaner" operations (i.e. reduced staffing levels) reported higher absenteeism rates (Figure 1).

Interestingly, over 50% of all unscheduled absences are due to either: personal needs, stress, or an entitlement mentality (i.e. “I’ve earned it”) (Shiftwork Practices, 2014).

Figure 1. Staffing Levels & Absenteeism Rate

Absenteeism Rates & Staffing Levels


2. Fatigued Workers Cost More in Worker’s Compensation

As workers reallocate their off-duty time towards work, their fatigue levels often rise due to the additional labor and reduced sleep opportunity (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Overtime Levels & Fatigue Problems

 Shift Work Overtime & Fatigue

Fatigued workers exhibit up to 4x the worker’s compensation costs as compared to non-fatigued workers (Figure 3). A recent meta-analysis of 27 observational studies found that sleep problems increase the risk of workplace injuries by 62 percent (Uehli et al., 2014).

Figure 3. Fatigue Levels & Worker’s Compensation

shift workers compensation and fatigue levels

3. Stress & Fatigue are Productivity Killers

Severe stress and fatigue problems have been found to reduce worker productivity by up to 10% (Figure 4).

Stress and fatigue can be influenced by a variety of factors; however, operations with leaner staffing levels more frequently reported problems with severe stress and fatigue among shift workers than operations that were adequately staffed (Shiftwork Practices, 2014).

Figure 4. Reduction in Productivity as a Function of Stress & Fatigue*

Shift work stress fatigue productivity
The Conclusion…

It’s clear through this body of research that workload-staffing imbalances need to be addressed to reduce excess costs, safety incidents, and worker fatigue.

To learn more about analyzing your staffing level, download our free white paper:

Staffing Levels
Managing Risk in 24/7 Operations

24/7 operations staffing level white paper shift work white paper download
About CIRCADIAN®

CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock. Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research and technology, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations in the 24-hour economy optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of their extended hours operations.




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The dangers of a sleep deprived workforce have been clearly demonstrated throughout research; however, the association between sleep quality and work injury risk has been an open question of interest among researchers.

Conflicting results have come from studies examining the variables that potentially modulate the association between sleep quality and workplace injuries. A recent meta-analysis of 27 observational studies found that sleep problems increase the risk of workplace injuries by 62 percent (Uehli et al., 2014).

Because of this, Swiss researchers looked to better understand the relationship between sleep problems and workplace injuries. Their findings, which were recently published in the Journal of Sleep Research, provide valuable insights into the relationship between sleep problems and the risk of work injuries.

We summarize and highlight the valuable, key points this research publication.

Goal of Study

According to the authors, "the aim of the study was to provide further evidence for the relationship between sleep quality and work injury and to identify factors that may modify this association.

Factors considered for the effect modification were gender, age, job risk, shift or night work, sleep duration, weekly working hours and co-morbid conditions."

Study Population

The case-control study included 180 cases and 551 controls, all of whom were recruited through the emergency department of the University Hospital in Basil, Switzerland.

To be included in the study, participants were required to meet the following criteria:

1. Age between 18 to 65 years

2. Hospital admission from a work injury that had occurred within the previous 48 hours

3. Moderate or severe work injury

4. Proficient in German

5. Adequate general mental condition to complete the questionnaire

Measurements

The well-validated and scientifically accepted Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was used to retrospectively measure sleep quality in the four weeks prior to the work injury. Poor sleep quality was defined as a PSQI score greater than 5.

Work injuries were defined according to Swiss law, and excludes repetitive strain injuries and commuting accidents.

Variables that were measured included:

  • Sleep quality based on PSQI Score (>5 = poor sleep quality)
  • Objectively diagnosed sleep disorders (self-reported)
  • Reported sleep duration
  • Type of work injury (8 categories)
  • Sociodemographic factors (gender, age, highest education and occupational status)
  • Work-related questions (primary job, shift or night work, weekly working hours and perceived work stress)

Research Findings

There was a dose-response relationship between sleep problem severity and the odds of a workplace injury occurring.

Workers were 2x more likely to suffer a work injury if diagnosed with a sleep disorder.

Workers with a diagnosed sleep disorder AND suffering from poor sleep quality had a 3x greater risk of a work injury.

For each 1 unit increase in PSQI score, work injury risk increased by 20-30% among participants who were:

  • Males 
  • Older workers (>30 years) 
  • Participants with high risk jobs
  • Working 50 hours per week or more 
  • Daytime workers
  • Short sleepers (

Also, for each 1 unit increase in PSQI score, the likelihood of previous work injuries increased by 12%.

Research Implications 

These findings are relevant and valuable because:

  • An increasing number of older individuals in the workforce (Auer and Fortuny, 2000)
  • An increasing number of people working long hours (Jacobs and Gerson, 2004) 
  • A decreasing average sleep duration among the general population (Kronholm et al., 2008)

Want to learn more about fatigue and workplace safety? 

Interested in how worker fatigue is impacting your workers? Check out a few of our articles and white papers that highlight important fatigue & safety finding. 

Relevant articles from CIRCADIAN's Shifting Work Perspectives:

CIRCADIAN White Papers

Biocompatible Shift Scheduling                 The Myths & Realities of Fatigue
Biocompatible Shift Scheduling Myths & Realities of Fatigue White Paper

CIRCADIAN® FRMS and 24/7 Workforce Solutions

CIRCADIAN is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock.  Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations in 24/7 workforces optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of their extended hours operations.

As escalating health care costs continue to significantly impact on corporate profits, many companies are realizing that proactive measures must be taken to manage these costs.

According to CIRCADIAN studies on financial costs associated with 24/7 operations, U.S. businesses spend an additional $36.5 billion annually on health care to support 24/7 operations.1

In most cases, the distinct health risks faced by shiftworkers can be controlled, monitored and potentially reduced through a collaborative effort of both management and workers.

Knowing these crucial factors will facilitate the design of programs that improve employee health and enhance productivity while also reducing the costs, risks and liabilities of shiftwork operations.

1. Gender

Gender has been recognized as a factor affecting shiftwork tolerance, as several studies have found that men have a greater tolerance for shiftwork than women.2

Several studies have reported that female shiftworkers tend to have more sleep-related problems than male shift workers.4,5,6,7

In particular, one study found that female shiftworkers report difficulties falling asleep, problems with insomnia and using sleeping aids to fall asleep more frequently than male shift workers.2, 4

Sleep & Gender

Because female shiftworkers report needing more sleep than men, a large disparity exists between women and men in terms of perceived sleep needs and obtained sleep.

Not surprisingly, the major problem is related to the night shift. While male and female shiftworkers report getting similar amounts of sleep when working the morning and evening shifts, 48% of female workers get six hours of sleep or less when working the night shift, compared to 41% of men (Figure 1).3

Figure 1: Sleep duration for men and women across different shifts3

Shift Type and Hours of Sleep  

Gender differences in sleep quality also occur on the night shift. Twenty-eight percent (28%) of female shiftworkers report “poor” sleep when working the night shift, compared to just 20% of male shift workers.3

Fatigue at Work

Female shiftworkers report feeling tired while working more frequently than their male counterparts.3

However, male shiftworkers report nodding off and making mistakes while working more often than women.3

2. Age

Problems with work performance tend to increase with age, the critical age being 40-50 years, when based on measures of subjective sleepiness, performance tests, recovery after work and sleep time.2

However, in terms of the risk of developing shiftwork related health problems and shiftwork tolerance, research studies report more favorable outcomes for older workers.3

This may be due to the “healthy shift worker effect”, in which older workers represent the individuals who are healthier and have always been better at coping with shift work, even at a younger age. Previous experience with shiftwork clearly influences one’s tolerance to shift work.

Overall, adjustment to shift schedules seems to improve with age and shiftwork experience. The percentage of shiftworkers reporting that their health would improve with a different schedule decreases from 51% for the group 25-34 years old, to 27% for workers aged 55 or older.3

3. Circadian Profile

A person’s “circadian profile” tends to affect shiftwork adaptation. Three main characteristics have been extensively evaluated: morningness/eveningness, flexibility of sleeping habits, and one’s ability to overcome drowsiness.

Morningness/Eveningness

Morning types, or “larks,” are naturally more alert in the morning than in the evening, and their circadian rhythms (temperature, alertness, etc.) reach a maximum earlier in the day. The opposite is true for evening types, or “owls.”

Scientists have demonstrated that morningness/eveningness is linked to a specific set of genes.

Morningness is also associated with an increased rigidity in sleep patterns—morning types find it more difficult to sleep during the morning than evening types, which further decreases morning types’ adaptation to night work.3

Shiftworkers in 24/7 operations who prefer to get up late (after 9 a.m.)—evening types—report sleeping more hours and getting better sleep on the night shift.3

Surprisingly, evening types report more problems adapting to their work schedule.3

Flexibility of Sleep Habits

Flexibility of sleep habits indicates an individual’s self-perceived ability to sleep at different times during the day or night. The ability to overcome drowsiness defines their ability to sustain alertness.

Ability to Overcome Drowsiness

Researchers have found that the ability to overcome drowsiness is the best indicator of shiftwork tolerance after three years of shiftwork.3

Both flexibility of sleep habits and ability to overcome drowsiness have been found to be related to a better long term shiftwork tolerance.3

4. Psychological and Behavioral Factors

Personality

Two psychological factors, extroversion/introversion and neuroticism, have been widely studied in relation to shiftwork tolerance. Several studies have found that extroverts adjust somewhat faster than introverts to shift work.2

However, neither extroversion nor neuroticism have any value in predicting adaptation to shift work.2

Locus of Control

Locus of control (that is, the internal versus external attribution of control with regard to managing problems) has recently been introduced as a factor affecting shiftwork tolerance – especially in regards to one’s locus of control in terms of shift work.

Internal locus of control (when the individual feels that rewarding experiences are contingent upon their own behavior and attributes) has been associated with better shiftworktolerance.3

Commitment to Shiftwork

Individual strategies for coping with shiftwork have been evaluated and seem to be a promising factor in predicting shiftwork tolerance.

Commitment to shiftwork means that workers are willing to schedule their lives around working non-traditional hours. Correct sleeping habits, appropriate exposure to bright light, good nutritional practices, and physical exercise may all have a crucial effect on shiftwork tolerance.

In fact, “commitment to shift work” has been cited by several authors as the most important individual factor affecting shiftworktolerance.3

5. Social Factors

Family and social factors can also affect one’s adaptation to shift work. It’s evident that the support spousal or partner support plays a pivotal role in the one’s adaptation to shift work.

Not surprisingly, the presence of children increases domestic responsibilities and may result in more difficulties adapting to a shiftwork lifestyle.

Shiftworkers with good family lives report better health status.3 This finding could be related to an absence of family conflict—a recognized source of stress—for these workers.

Long commutes interfere with everyday life, restricting free time and reducing sleep. Workers with commutes that are 45 minutes or longer have been found to report higher stress levels, more health problems, and higher absenteeism rates than workers with commutes of 20 minutes or less.3

Shiftwork Lifestyle Training

Most shiftworkers don’t know how to adjust their lifestyle to minimize the negative effects of working around the clock. As a result, workers’ job performance, safety, health, and family life suffers as company profits and productivity fall.

Training workers on how to manage a shiftwork lifestyle is a powerful tool for improving your employees’ physical and psychological well-being, thereby increasing morale and effectiveness.

In fact, research reports have found that turnover and absenteeism rates are higher in facilities that do not provide some type of shiftwork lifestyle training.

Download Our Free White Paper

Download our complementary CIRCADIAN® white paper, “Shiftwork Lifestyle Training: Employee and Employer Benefits”

Managing a Shiftwork Lifestyle Training alt
About CIRCADIAN®

CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock.  Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research and technology, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations in the 24-hour economy optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of their extended hours operations.

REFERENCES

1.CIRCADIAN. (2003). Financial Opportunities in Extended Hours Operations: Managing Costs, Risks, and Liabilities. Costs based on 2014 inflation rates.

2.Saksvik, I. B., Bjorvatn, B., Hetland, H., Sandal, G. M., & Pallesen, S. (2011). Individual differences in tolerance to shift work–a systematic review. Sleep medicine reviews, 15(4), 221-235.

3.CIRCADIAN. (2003). Health in Extended Hours Operations: Understanding the Challenges, Implementing the Solutions.

4.Marquie, J. C., & Foret, J. (1999). Sleep, age, and shiftwork experience. Journal of sleep research, 8(4), 297-304.

5.Rotenberg, L., Portela, L. F., Marcondes, W. B., Moreno, C., & Nascimento, C. P. (2000). Gender and diurnal sleep in night workers at a Brazilian industry. Shiftwork in the 21 st Century. Challenges for Research and Practice, 305-309.

6.Admi, H., Tzischinsky, O., Epstein, R., Herer, P., & Lavie, P. (2007). Shift work in nursing: is it really a risk factor for nurses' health and patients' safety?. Nursing economic$, 26(4), 250-257.

7.Rouch, I., Wild, P., Ansiau, D., & Marquié, J. C. (2005). Shiftwork experience, age and cognitive performance. Ergonomics, 48(10), 1282-1293.

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