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Demanding Work Schedules—A Question of Safety

By Kelly Balamuth on January 16, 2013

There is no doubt the U.S. has one of the hardest working work forces in the world. Construction workers take pride in what they are able to accomplish in one shift on the job site. But shift work and extended work hours have long been associated with safety risks and injuries suffered on the job.

The Northern California Bay Area personal injury lawyers at Balamuth Law understand the importance of safety on the construction site in order to avoid serious construction accident injuries. According to the National Labor Office, U.S workers work more hours than do workers in Japan and in the majority of Western European countries. Millions of Americans currently work on rotating shifts, night shifts, evening shifts or other schedules irregularly mandated by employers.

Sleep Deprivation

Working shifts and nights can cause loss of concentration among construction workers. Lack of concentration leads to accidents and errors that may endanger fellow workers, the public, and certainly themselves. Sleep during normal nighttime is more refreshing than sleep during daylight after a night shift. Add to this the stress of being separated from family and deprived of interaction with friends who work day shifts. This stress can cause attention gaps and can aggravate health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.

Working during the Body’s Low Point

The body’s low point is the nighttime and early morning when brain and bodily functions slow to a minimum. Working during the body’s low point and working while deprived of sleep contribute to increased fatigue. Workers may take chances or shortcuts they would not normally take if they were alert and concerned with construction site safety.

Help Available

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service has published a pamphlet available online at www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/97-145/pdfs/97-145.pdf, titled Plain Language about Shiftwork. You may not be able to change your work schedule, but you can obtain valuable information about coping strategies.

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Attorney Kelly Balamuth was profiled in the
September 2013 Issue of Plaintiff Magazine.

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