Toolbox Talk: Shift Work, Long Work Hours, and Fatigue

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CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training

Summary Statement

The CPWR Toolbox Talk on Shift Work, Long Work Hours and Fatigue addresses risks associated with fatigued workers. The resource includes a ‘real-life’ case example, steps to prevent a related injury or illness, and questions for discussion. It includes an image (page 2) that illustrates the hazard, which can be posted in a central location as a reminder of steps to work safely.   Click on the following links to access the English version and the Spanish version. (English) (Español)

https://www.cpwr.com/publications/toolbox-talks

CPWR Toolbox Talk logoPeople who cannot work a steady schedule can feel isolated and managers may think that the workers lack self-control.

 

 

Here is an Example

Lauren, a pipefitter, just had a baby a few months ago. Desperate to pay the bills, she told her supervisor she would work any shift available during the refinery expansion project. For the past week, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday she worked the day shift. In addition, she worked the night shift on Tuesday and Thursday. By Friday, she was exhausted not only from taking care of her baby, but also from not being able to stay on a consistent schedule. Friday afternoon, she passed out from exhaustion and had to be rushed to the hospital. The doctor told her that her blood pressure was extremely high and she was suffering from lack of sleep.

  1. Have you ever felt too tired to work?
  2. Did you work anyway or did you call in sick?
  3. Did you feel pressure to work?

Fatigue Management

  • Look for signs of chronic fatigue from shift work:
    • Excessive drowsiness
    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Inability to adjust to new schedule
    • Greater time needed to react to normal tasks
    • Inattentiveness
  • Take actions to correct the problem:
    • Evaluate whether a rotating shift works with your lifestyle.
    • Discuss alternatives with your supervisor.
    • Take frequent, short breaks (at least every 2 hours).
    • Look for exercise opportunities, especially toward end of shift.
  • Determine what works for you and try to stick with it.

What Are We Going to Do Today?

What will we do here at the worksite today to prevent problems with shift work?

1.____________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________

2.____________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________

Applicable OSHA Standard: 5(a)(1) of the OSHA Act, The General Duty Clause

Graphic of a worker discussing their shift with their supervisor.

  • Evaluate whether a rotating shift works with your lifestyle.
  • Discuss alternatives with your supervisor.
  • Look for exercise opportunities, especially toward end of shift.