Shift work may not be ideal, but you may find that it is the best way to pay the bills. Working long and irregular shifts can take a toll on your physical and mental health, though. Could those long shifts also affect your safety at work? According to a recent study, your chances of suffering a workplace injury are much higher if you work long shifts.
The study focused specifically on miners. However, it is not difficult to see how the information could also apply to workers employed in other industries. After all, many industries require their workers to put in long hours on the job.
Long hours mean dangerous conditions
The study defined long shifts as those lasting nine hours or longer. Researchers then analyzed approximately 546,000 worker injury reports from the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The agency generated these reports from 1983 to 2015. On average, across that period, 9.6% of miners working long shifts suffered injuries.
The problem is worsening over time, too. In 1983, workplace accidents injured only 5.5% of workers on long shifts. In 2015, 13.9% of miners scheduled for long shifts suffered workplace injuries. Long shifts also increased the chance of being involved in a workplace accident that led to multiple worker injuries.
Inexperienced workers make things worse
Many mining operations are shifting away from long-term employees. Instead, contract workers are filling in the gaps in employment. This might improve the bottom line at some mining companies, but it also puts workers in harm’s way. Researchers discovered that long hours are not the only risk factor for increased worker injuries — inexperienced workers are also a problem.
Workers with two or fewer years on the job are more likely to cause or be involved in a workplace accident. This means that an inexperienced contract worker could cause serious harm to experienced workers who are following all of the necessary safety precautions. Irregular schedules that contribute to a lack of routine also amplify these risk factors.
Shift work can be hard
As a shift worker, you may not know what your schedule will be more than a week or two in advance. This does more than complicate your social life. It also increases your chance of being involved in a serious workplace accident. If you work shifts longer than nine hours or with inexperienced co-workers then your chances are even higher.
The possibility of experiencing a serious workplace injury is not isolated to the mining industry. Workers employed in construction, health care, retail and even more deal with the possibility of injury on a regular basis. While this thought can be overwhelming, injury victims do have options. For victims of workplace injuries in Ohio, workers’ compensation benefits are essential for bridging the financial gap between injury and recovery. If you are confused about the process, an attorney should be able to explain your options for applying for workers’ comp or appealing a denial.