Working rotating shifts is a health hazard that many researchers are studying in an attempt to find solutions. It makes perfect sense that changing work shifts would cause medical problems for people, because it is not a normal way to live. The human brain and body has particular rhythms for being awake and sleeping. Scientists already know that individuals with sleeping patterns that are outside the norm experience chronic health problems such as high blood pressure and migraines. One of the most disturbing things about rotating shifts is that workers employed in essential and stressful jobs that require clear thinking are commonly scheduled this way. While rotating shifts may be necessary in some industries the effects can be mitigated by having a clear picture of how the schedule looks and preventing workers from having too many back to back shifts. A good way to accomplish this is to use employee scheduling software to help visualize and plan shifts.
There are things that employers can do to ensure their workers are thinking and feeling their best while working on a rotating shift basis. Not only does implementing these plans protect employees from the dangers of depression, ulcers and heart disease, it also protects the public. Employees working in industries such as medical care and transportation are more likely to make errors that risk the public and patients when they are stressed, tired and mentally confused due to working rotating shifts. Working an irregular schedule also leads to workers having poor sleeping and eating habits.
Due to constantly changing work hours, workers find it difficult to maintain a normal social life, leading to family problems and stress. Workers constantly experiencing health problems due to rotating shifts are often unproductive or have higher rates of absenteeism. Companies can find ways to alleviate the mental and physical problems that employees experience as a result of rotating shifts. For individuals who are working at night, the lack of natural sunlight changes their mind and body’s reaction times. Companies can easily increase the lighting in buildings to simulate sunlight to help employees feel better.
Because people have a natural inclination to stay up later each night, rotating shifts forward is healthier than moving shifts back. Moving shifts back leads to workers having perpetual jet lag with feelings of grogginess and lethargy. Proper nutrition is an important part of ensuring someone is full of mental and physical energy. Unfortunately, employees working rotating shifts have a difficult time maintaining a healthy meal schedule that prevents swings in blood sugar levels. Keeping cafeterias open round-the-clock in medical facilities and factories permits workers to consume a healthy diet when they are on rotating shifts.