Night Shift Worker's Health Matters
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Night Shift Workers face many problems with sleep disturbances and excessive fatigue. Working such hours creates a misalignment with our circadian rhythm, ‘body clock’. This imbalance between your internal and external world can cause workers to feel drowsy when they need to be alert and vice versa. This misalignment can lead into severe sleep deprivation and other serious health risks. Workplaces need to provide compensation to workers for the health risks that can ensue. Work environments must adapt to night work providing materials to help keep employees alert in work and to help them shift their body clock enabling better sleep during the day.
- Night Shift Workers get a daily of 2 to 4 hours less sleep than those who work during the day (UCLA sleep centre)
- 10% of night shift workers suffer from a sleeping disorder known as 'shift work disorder'. (Sleep Foundation)
- 25-30% of shift workers experience symptoms of the disorder such as excessive sleepiness or insomnia. (Sleep Foundation)
- Night Shifts raise the risks of other serious health issues, for example: increase in risk of cardiovascular diseases by 40%, breast cancer by 50%, diabetes by 50%. (WebMD)
Night Shift Worker’s Mandate for Change
We need to be educated on the health risks that can ensue due to working nights. We need to be compensated if any health issues arise due to working such hours. We should not have to work more than eight hour shifts at night. We need to be paid more than day workers. Employers need to follow up on issues that may arise from the legally required health assessments helping us with arranging free appointments. We should be provided with non-medical supplements outside of these assessments. We should have equipment to improve sleep available such as amber tinted glasses at the end of our shifts, light therapy boxes, melatonin supplements. Investing in increasing light intensity in the workplace at night to help hinder fatigue setting in, increase blue and green content when available. Facilities such as support services need to be kept open during the night shifts.
We need appropriate amount of time in between shifts to recoup, the legal amount of only eleven hours will not suffice. We need to have a say in how our shifts are scheduled where possible and be able to try different shift patterns. Shifts need to be organised along with public transportation schedules. We should have a say in how our workload is organised, when we can complete certain tasks. Breaks should be scheduled closer to the end of the shift as fatigue begins to kick in. In addition to the legal requirements for breaks, workplaces should facilitate breaks and areas for napping and resting in. Employers need to take more steps with facilitating these simple approaches that can minimise risks to employees wellbeing.
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