The Working Time Directive Regulations require employers to identify those employees who work long hours or shift patterns. Under the Working Time Regulations 1998, employers are required to ensure that workers are fit for night work and must offer a free health assessment to anyone who is about to start working nights and to all night workers on a regular basis. Once identified, Workare can provide a comprehensive service for those who are entitled to a health screen. Long hours or shift/night working can have adverse effects on acute and chronic medical complaints.
What Are The Undesirable Effects Of Shift Work?
Research has shown that there can be undesirable consequences for those working shifts outside standard daytime hours, particularly those covering the night or with early morning starts. For example, shift work may result in:
- Disruption of the internal body clock.
- Sleeping difficulties.
- Disturbed appetite and digestion.
- Reliance on sedatives and/or stimulants.
- Social and domestic problems.
Which in turn can affect performance, increase the likelihood of errors and accidents at work, and might have a negative effect on health.
Source: Managing shiftwork HSE Guidance ISBN 978 0 7176 6197 8
Night Worker Assessment Health Effects
As well as chronic fatigue, there is some evidence associating long-term exposure to shift work and the following ill health effects:
- Gastrointestinal problems such as indigestion.
- Abdominal pain, constipation, chronic gastritis and peptic ulcers.
- Cardiovascular problems such as hypertension, coronary heart disease.
- Increased susceptibility to minor illnesses such as colds, flu and gastroenteritis.
Don’t put your staff at risk offer them a Workare Night Worker Assessment
- Health questionnaire.
- Clinical tests.
- Counselling for employee.
- Health record form for manager.
Workare night worker assessments takes approximately 30 minutes per person.
Management will be provided with evidence that screening has taken place in order to satisfy the requirements of the Working Time Directive.
Good Practice Guidelines For Shift Design
- Plan an appropriate and varied workload.
- Offer a choice of permanent or rotating shifts and try to avoid permanent night shifts.
- Either rotate shifts every 2-3 days or every 3-4 weeks – otherwise adopt forward rotating shifts.
- Avoid early morning starts and try to fit shift times in with the availability of public transport.
- Limit shifts to 12 hours including overtime, or to 8 hours if they are night shifts and/or the work is demanding, monotonous, dangerous and/or safety critical.
- Encourage workers to take regular breaks and allow some choice as to when they are taken.
- Consider the needs of vulnerable workers, such as young or aging workers and new and expectant mothers.
- Limit consecutive work days to a maximum of 5 – 7 days and restrict long shifts, night shifts and early morning shifts to 2-3 consecutive shifts.
- Allow 2 nights full sleep when switching from day to night shifts and vice versa.
- Build regular free weekends into the shift schedule.
Source HSE web site