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Revealed: Health and safety complications associated with night shift work

by , 27 December 2013
Shift work comes with a lot of physical health side-effects. And that's because a shift worker has to function on an 'unnatural' schedule. Constantly changing schedules can cause the following health and safety complications if your employees work night shifts.

As mentioned, there are health and safety complications associated with night shift work.

Do you know what they are?

Night shift work could cause the following health and safety complications

The Health & Safety Advisor says there are other illnesses and disorders that will cause some of the symptoms below, but employees working night shift are most likely to experience them.

#1: Mental Symptoms

  • Increased irritability and moodiness: Your shift workers are more likely to be irritable and moody. Their relationships break up more easily.
  • Being overly emotional: Snapping or losing it and crying are other symptoms reported by shift workers. This could cause problems for you when you interact with them.
  • Over-sensitivity and defensiveness: Your night shift workers may experience increased levels of stress. This causes them to overreact to criticism. They become over-sensitive and defensive and this leads to disputes over minor issues.
  • Contrary behaviour: Some workers find night shift work so stressful that they became easily upset and see problems that aren't really there. You must take the time to calm your stressed employee down and to try point out their contrary behaviour.
  • Forgetfulness: Forgetting small tasks at night can cause major problems. For example, forgetting to do quality checks.

#2: Physical symptoms

  • Fatigue and tiredness: Workers get worn out and tired for days after night shifts.
  • Loss of energy: Shift workers often report a lack of energy for doing all normal activities like gardening, home maintenance and recreational sports.
  • Broken sleep after shifts: Broken sleep stops your shift worker getting quality sleep which delays any recovery from shift lag. This can cause him to wake up during his next sleep and then fall asleep on his next shift.

#3: Constipation and stomach problems: Shift workers are prone to constipation and fluid retention, due to incorrect eating habits and drinking insufficient fluids. You can assist them by providing healthy nutritious meals.

#4: Dehydration, dry mouths and increase in colds and flu: Insufficient liquids can cause headaches, dry skin and nasal irritation.

This can make shift workers more susceptible to colds, coughs, sore throats and flu that may be floating around the workplace.

The danger here is that this can cause your night shift worker to take a higher number of sick days than a day worker.

Is there any anything you can do to reduce health and safety complications associated with night shift work?


Follow these guidelines to help your workers to greatly minimise these symptoms. In addition, advise your workers to report any physical and mental problems to your occupational health care practitioners. This will help prevent major incidents in your workplace.

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