We’ve all heard the expression “24/7”and we’re likely to be hearing it more often as more countries move toward 24-hour societies. But shift work (shifts outside of the traditional 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. workday) brings with it a variety of problems for businesses: a higher rate of injuries, accidents and health-related problems; increased employee absenteeism and substance abuse; more production errors, etc. – all of which boost your insurance costs and slash your bottom line.
The good news: You can reduce or eliminate many of these problems by providing effective shift work training. “Worker lifestyle training provides measurable benefits for the company, its employees, and their families,” notes a 2007 report from Circadian Workforce Solutions. “In addition to improved alertness levels, health, and quality of life, such training can also reduce accidents, decrease legal liability, and reduce overall operating costs.” These programs can also help curb turnover; a Circadian survey found that shift training cut turnover rates by more than 4% — and replacing a single employee cost survey respondents from $12,000 to $60,000.
An effective worker lifestyle program should show your employees how to get enough rest off the job by following these guidelines:
- Always go to bed at the same time, preferably as soon as possible after work.
- Sleep in a dark, quiet room. Use room-darkening shades or drapes and turn off the phone. If people or traffic noises disturb them, try using earplugs or turning on a fan that covers the noise.
- Eat balanced, nutritious meals. Eat only light snacks before bed. Avoid food that’s heavy, rich, or spicy. Also try to stop drinking alcohol or caffeine or smoking a few hours before going to bed.
- Exercise regularly, although not in the two hours before trying to sleep. Avoid sleeping pills. In case of insomnia, consult a physician.
To maximize safety during working hours, have your employees:
- Turn on all lights in their work area and in hallways, stairways, bathrooms, etc.
- Replace or report any burned-out bulbs promptly.
- Make sure that they have adequate task lighting. If they can’t see their equipment controls, read container labels, or have similar problems, have them alert their supervisor.
- Be sure that all work areas are ventilated, and report any ventilation systems that aren’t working properly.