Can Work Schedules Improve Health, Safety, and Family Harmony?
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Work Schedules can Impact Health, Safety, and Family Harmony
A person's work schedule can increase his or her health and safety risks. The Economic Policy Institute released findings last year regarding the consequences of irregular work scheduling. The report identified that employees who work irregular schedules experience increased family-conflict, stress, and sleep disturbances. In fact, research dating back to the early 1970s indicate that scheduling can impact the health and safety of employees both on and off the job, especially those working irregular or unpredictable shifts. These scheduling arrangements may include:
Evening shift (second shift): 4 p.m. to 12 p.m.
Night shift (third shift): 12 a.m. to 8 a.m.
 Irregular/rotating shift
Platoon shift: 24 hours on, 48 hours off
Policies that Address Scheduling
Written and readily accessible health and safety policies are essential to promote safety, health, and well-being within an organization. Policies should address both physical and organizational aspects of the work environment. Federal, state, and local governments are moving towards creating policies to improve scheduling practices among employers. Last July, a bill was introduced in the United States Senate that would minimize fluctuations in the number of hours an employee is scheduled to work. The bill, Schedules That Work Act, would also increase the amount of time employers are required to notify employees about their schedules. Many major retailers like Bath & Body Works and Victoria's Secret are taking steps to address unpredictable and unstable scheduling.
Time to Adjust

Changes in our sleep-wake cycle can increase safety and health risks. Although many of us enjoy the extra hour of evening daylight when we “spring forward” by one hour during daylight savings time, our sleep is disturbed. Research published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that workers sustain more injuries and injuries of greater severity on the Monday directly following daylight savings time. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has recommendations to help workers adapt to this time change.

For more resources on programs, policies, and practices to increase safety, health, and well-being at your workplace, view our Total Worker Health Video Essentials.

Save the Date

  • March 22, 2016: Protecting Young Adults in the Agricultural Workforce Webinar
  • April 1, 2016: 1st Annual Occupational Health & Safety Research Conference
  • April 8, 2016: The Fifth Annual Great Plains Emerging Infectious Diseases Conference
  • April 13-15, 2016: Iowa/Illinois Safety Council's 63rd Annual Conference & Expo
  • April 28, 2016: 18th Annual Occupational Health Symposium
Visit our calendar for other trainings, conferences, and events.
The Healthier Workforce Center for Excellence (HWCE) is one of four Total Worker Health® Centers of Excellence funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).  Our mission is to improve the health of workers in Iowa and nationally through integrated health promotion and health protection research, collaboration, and dissemination of successful interventions.

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