Extended workdays can be good and bad. Workers enjoy longer weekends. However, workplace safety can decrease when shifts stretch past eight hours.
In this podcast, Dan Clark reveals five safety issues with extended workdays. Fatigue is the obvious problem. Extended exposure to ergonomic, chemical and noise hazards should also be considered.
Safety can also be compromised when workers return from extended time off. They often forget important job process details.
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Dan Clark: Working long hours can lead to obvious problems, such as fatigue. But, that’s not all. There are other risks employers and workers should be aware of.
Hello, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, tackling health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.
Extended workdays. Those are workdays that are longer than eight hours—or longer than 12 hours—depending on who you talk to.
For our purposes, it’s any workday longer than eight hours.
Extended workdays create the CWW—a Compressed Work Week. That means more time off. And this benefit is often welcome, but there are risks. Here are five of them:
• 1. Extended workdays cause fatigue. Burn the midnight oil, and you’ll need longer periods of rest. Symptoms of fatigue include poor concentration and memory, irritability, lack of motivation and on and on. To combat fatigue, provide more breaks and more days off.
• 2. Extended workdays cause more exposure to ergonomic hazards. Workers with repetitive tasks such as lifting, assembly line work, and using vibrating tools will face more strain.
• 3. Extended workdays cause longer exposure to noise hazards. Over time, even lower levels of noise can cause hearing damage. Increased time at work means damage can occur more quickly. Solutions include engineering controls and PPE.
• 4. Extended workdays cause more exposure to chemical hazards. Most safe levels of chemical exposure are determined based on eight hour, time weighted averages. So, now you have to determine how much extra exposure a worker will face, and whether levels will remain safe given the added time.
• 5. Extended workdays cause extended time off. Workers can lose touch with operations. Once back at work, it may take a while for them to get back up to speed. During that warm-up time, they may not work as safely.
In many professions, extended workdays are unavoidable. Employers should consider which jobs are good candidates for longer days. Intense tasks may not be.
Employers should also consider worker feedback when coordinating breaks and days off.
That’s all for this episode, 5 Risks Of Extended Workdays. Come back for more ways to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, a service of Creative Safety Supply. Save 10% off your entire order at creativesafetysupply.com with coupon code SAFETYBRIEF.
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