Reducing fatigue and stress Featured

10:09am EDT July 22, 2002

Reducing fatigue and stress

According to a the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 15.5 million people in the United States work nontraditional hours such as evenings, nights and rotating shifts.

Individuals who perform shiftwork can experience a disruption of the body's internal clock, resulting in sleep loss. Excessive lack of sleep can make it difficult for employees to concentrate, increasing the possibility of error or job-related injury. Digestive problems and stress are also part of the picture.

NIOSH suggests the following:

  • As appropriate, consider altering shiftwork schedules, such as having permanent night shifts, avoiding rapid shift changes and adjusting the shift duration to the workload. When changing an employee's work schedule, aspects of the worker's job and home life should be considered.

  • Schedule heavy or demanding work at times when workers are most alert or at peak performance. The use of bright lights can enhance alertness.

  • Provide training or awareness programs for new shiftworkers and ensure that health care and counseling services are available to employees. Training should encompass methods for employees to cope with adjusting to shiftwork, such as establishing a sleep routine, and affirming the importance of proper exercise, diet and relaxation routines to minimize stress.