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Four ways to make your workplace a safe environment for night shift workers

by , 01 July 2013
Gold Field's South Deep gold mine located southwest of Johannesburg has introduced a change in shifts for mineworkers, Mining Weekly reported. The new model will see underground operational personnel in job categories A4 to C5 work for four days and have four days off. Seeing as night shift workers are five times more likely to fall asleep on the job, Gold Fields is making this move to ensure avoid some of the worst accidents that occur between 12am and 3am, when body rhythms are at their lowest. Here are four solutions you can use to make your workplace safer and more productive for your night shift workers.

Did you know that night shift work interferes with your workers' normal sleep patterns?

That's right!

You see, our bodies produce a hormone called melatonin that regulates the body's rhythm. Melatonin is released at night and causes you to sleep. But night shift work interferes with this process and causes disturbances in your workers' sleep patterns because his body clock is now out of sync.

This isn't only a health and safety risk to your employees, it could be detrimental to your company if not managed properly.

That's because sleepiness harms your employee's 'safety, productivity, memory and mood through judgement errors, risk taking, and shortcuts, which will lead to workplace injuries,' says The Health & Safety Advisor.

Luckily, there're four things you can do to reduce the health and safety risks night shift work poses to your workers.

How to make your workplace safer for night shift

#1: Ensure your work areas are well-lit. Bright lights signal to the body it needs to be awake and alert.

#2: Educate managers and shift workers about the need for sleep and the dangers of fatigue, when you induct them, and during regular meetings. Encourage communication about any problems regarding shift work.

#3: Ensure there's a canteen or vending machine with healthy food choices like protein, vegetables, fruit and grains. Healthy foods help you to adjust to changing work routines.

Encourage regular meals and advise workers to avoid too much saturated fat, salt, sugar and caffeine. Too much of these substances will cause unhealthy fluctuations in blood sugar. Encourage your employees to only consume caffeine-rich drinks in the morning.

#4: Night workers typically get less sleep than daytime workers do and their sleep is less restful. So ensure your shift workers understand the benefits of getting proper sleep.

Encourage your workers to maintain a regular work and sleep routine on off-days and have meals at the same times if possible.

Using these tips will help ensure the safety alertness of your shift workers who work odd hours. And this will help your company avoid costly accidents.

Turn to chapter S06 of your Health and Safety Advisor to get more tips on how you can manage your shift workers.


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