The majority of workers want their safety and well-being prioritized, according to a recent study. While some of Australia’s workers may be lucky enough to get this, the country’s shift workers certainly aren’t. A recent study found that they’re at greater risk of developing sleep disorders as a direct result of their job. So what can be done to improve workplace health and safety for these employees?
The dangers of shift work
The study conducted by Edith Cowan University looked into the working lives of some of Australia’s miners. They found that miners on day shifts had 30 minutes sleep loss and miners on night shifts experienced 77 minutes sleep loss. This led researchers to conclude that three out of five miners were at risk of a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea. The team highlighted how it’s not just miners at risk, but shift workers in other industries too, such as health care and manufacturing.
Employers who have shift workers on their rotas must work with them to ensure their health and safety. Simple things such as giving regular breaks and screening workers for sleep disorders can have a positive impact and ensure the right help is given. Businesses should also assess their shift rotas and change them where necessary to encourage better sleep in their workers. If these things aren’t done there’s a risk that the worker will work while sleep deprived. This can lead to mistakes and even personal injuries. Subcontractors have just as much right to enhanced health and safety measures at work too, so make sure you consider them. Otherwise, a subcontractor lawsuit may be filed which could result in damages being awarded.
Keeping shift workers safe
It is recommended that shift workers have at least 10 solid hours of work-free time every day. This promotes better sleep patterns and allows them to get the recommended 7 to 9 hours sleep. Employers should also give shift workers at least 2 consecutive days off work every fortnight, so they have the chance to get 2 nights of quality sleep. Ideally, overtime shouldn’t be given to shift workers on a night shift. When this is not possible, there should be a longer period before their next shift starts.
Shift workers are some of Australia’s hardest workers. Unfortunately, there is a greater chance of them having sleep problems, so employers must do everything they can to protect their health, safety, and well-being.