Most people are typically more alert during “high” points in the rhythm, and feel sleepier at “low” points.
Low points occur:
- At night, between midnight and 6:00 a.m. (especially between 3:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.)
- In the afternoon, between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
Statistics have shown that catastrophic incidents are more likely to occur when workers are at “low” points in the rhythm (e.g., while working a night shift).
According to the experts, shift work often contributes to fatigue. Studies have shown that approximately 75% of workers on night shifts are fatigued on every shift, and 20% of them actually fall asleep on the job. Shift work is especially difficult for workers when shift times are not well thought out, or when there are frequent changes to schedules. This is especially true for older workers, who find it more difficult to adjust to schedule changes, and who may be more easily fatigued by long shifts (eight or more hours per day). As your hours of work increase – especially if you work 12 or more hours per day – your opportunities for sleep decrease, putting you at greater risk for fatigue.
Environmental conditions at work that can increase fatigue include:
Exposure to physical and chemical hazards such as:
- Improper lighting
- Excessive noise and/or vibration
- Extreme temperatures (i.e., excessive heat or cold)
- Hazardous chemicals
- Lack of proper rest facilities
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