Their study, published in the current issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, examines Statistics Canada data on more than 30,000 people.
It found that while the overall rate of work injuries went down from 1996 to 2006, there was no decline for night-shift workers. (WCxKit)
Lead author Imelda Wong states the disruption of normal sleep patterns can cause drowsiness or fatigue, which can lead to workplace injuries.
"I think we can all relate to what it feels like to have a sleepless night. We feel a bit groggy the next day," Wong told CTV's Canada AM Wednesday from Vancouver. "Well, people who work shift work are constantly sleep-deprived and may be more fatigued at work and that does increase the risk of injury." Wong says her study looked at both people who worked regular night schedules, and people who worked rotating schedules.
The study found the risk of injury on the job associated with shift work was more pronounced for women, especially if they worked rotating shifts.
The researchers suggest because women tend to be responsible for child care and household work, they have more difficulty maintaining regular sleep schedules.
"On average, women spend nine hours more per week on household duties than men. And women's primary household duties include child care, which involves daily activities that require more alertness," Wong noted.
All those injuries add up and cost society in real dollars, the study found.(WCxKit)
In 2006, there were 307,000 work-related injury claims linked to shift work. All told, they represented more than $50.5 million in costs to Canada's workers' compensation system.
The authors conclude both employers and governments need to "consider policies and programs to help reduce the risk of injuries among shift workers."
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing.
Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
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