Shift worker participation

Knauth and Hornberger (2003) recommend that the design of a shift schedule should be a compromise between the goals of the organisation and the wishes of the workers. There is a need to have worker participation, information and communication about a new shift schedule, champions of change, effective management of the change, evaluation of the effects of the new schedule on the company and the workers, and time for people to adapt to the new system. Duchon et al. (1994) found that metal mine workers supported a 12-hour shift schedule with a compressed work schedule as compared with an eight-hour schedule. A positive effect was found on absenteeism, morale, health, stress, eating habits, family life, and sleep quantity and quality.

Shift working conditions, personal health-related and behavioural resources

Rosa (1995) states that attention should be given to the levels of staffing and workloads of individuals working in shifts. other factors such as lighting, breaks, exercise, naps, type of food and frequency of eating are discussed in detail in the section concerned with fatigue countermeasures. Long-term shift work has been associated with cardiovascular, psychiatric, chronic fatigue and gastrointestinal problems (Monk and Folkard, 1992; Smith et al., 2003). there is increasing evidence to suggest that shift work, and particularly night work, may present special risks to women. Specific health outcomes for pregnant workers linked to shift work include increased risk of spontaneous abortion, low birth weight and prematurity (Harrington, 2001). In a review of the link between breast cancer and shift work, Swerdlow (2003) states that the evidence of a link is appreciable, but not definitive. So while there is consistent evidence that workers can suffer health problems related to shift working, not all studies, e.g. Nicholson and D’Auria (1999), have found a statistical increase in the morbidity (incidence of disease) in shift workers.

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