InTents June/July 2023 - 45

also have been noted more often among
shiftworkers than day workers. If possible,
workers will change jobs if they think the
work is making them ill.
A stressful schedule can combine with
other factors to hurt a person's health. If
a person has other major stresses in life,
such as a bad marriage or a loved one
with a chronic illness, a demanding work
schedule certainly won't help the situation.
If a worker has poor health habits, such as
using too much alcohol or tobacco, it will be
more difficult to change those habits under
the stress of the work schedule.
Improving shiftwork schedules
A well-designed work schedule can improve
health and safety, worker satisfaction
and productivity. Therefore, a good
work schedule is an advantage for both
the organization and the worker. Shown
below are some possibilities that the organization
could consider to improve a
shiftwork schedule. It is recommended
that any work schedule change should
first be temporary and evaluated carefully.
The benefits of the change must outweigh
the possible negative aspects.
* Plan some free weekends: If a sevendays-per-week
schedule is required,
allow one or two full weekends off each
month. Loss of contact with friends
and family is a major problem for
shiftworkers, and weekends are the best
time to meet family and friends who are
on a day schedule.
* Avoid several days of work followed by
four- to seven-day " mini-vacations " :
Working several days in a row followed
by several days off can be very fatiguing.
For example, some schedules require
10 to 14 days of work followed by five to
seven days off. Frequent " mini-vacations "
are well liked by some workers, especially
younger ones. However, older workers
find it difficult to sufficiently recover
during the mini-vacations before they
return to another long spell of work.
* Consider different lengths for shifts:
Try adjusting shift length to the workload.
Heavy physical or mental work
or monotonous boring work is especially
difficult at night. Maybe night
shifts could be shorter. If possible,
move heavy work to shorter shifts
and lighter work to longer shifts.
* Examine start-end times: Flexible
start-end times, or " flextime, " can be
useful for those with childcare needs
or a long commute time. Consider
moving shift start-end times away
from rush hour. Workers should know
their schedule well ahead of time, so
they can plan their rest, childcare and
contact with family and friends.
* Examine rest breaks: Sometimes the
standard lunch and coffee break are
not enough to recover from fatigue.
In jobs requiring repetitive physical
work, brief rest breaks each hour
seem to be best for recovery from
muscle fatigue.
* Access to health care and counselling:
Often, going to one's health clinic
or to personal or marriage counselling
is not possible in the evening or
at night. Expanded access to these
services will help improve shiftworkers'
physical and mental health and
boost morale.
* Social programs: Making a little extra
effort at organizing get-togethers,
hobby clubs, or sports and game activities
can lessen the feeling of isolation
workers may have. There is
no special reason for these activities
to take place only in the day or evening.
For example, nighttime or early
morning bowling leagues are available
in some places.
This article is excerpted from a longer piece
published by the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention titled " Plain Language about
Shiftwork. " For more information or to read
the complete article, visit cdc.gov.
A well-designed
work schedule can
improve health
and safety, worker
satisfaction and
productivity.
http://www.cdc.gov

InTents June/July 2023

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