SAFETY THEME OF THE MONTH – August 2000
2nd SHIFT FATIGUE
According to a 2000 National Sleep Prevention Poll, 65% of people report
that they do not get enough sleep. When sleep deprived or when fatigue sets
in, people think and move more slowly, make more mistakes, and have
difficulty remembering things. These negative effects lead to lower
productivity and also can cause serious accidents. The risk of workplace and
automobile accidents sharply rises for tired 2nd shift workers, especially on
the drive to and from work.
You can try these tips to stay alert on the job:
Try to get 8 hours of sleep before starting work.
Try to work with a “buddy.” Talking with co-workers can help you keep
alert and co-workers can be on the lookout signs of drowsiness.
Take scheduled work breaks – a snack or exercise can refresh you.
Try to eat 3 well-balanced meals per day. Eat healthy snacks, avoiding
foods that may upset your stomach.
If you drink caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, cola), do so early in the
Don’t leave the most tedious or boring tasks to the end of the shift when
you are apt to feel drowsy.
Exchange ideas with your co-workers on ways to cope with the problems
of shift work.
OPERATING EQUIPMENT SAFELY
If you operate equipment or drive a vehicle during your shift, you must pay
careful attention to the signs of sleepiness or fatigue:
Don’t ignore signals such as frequent yawning, blinking, a sense of
tiredness or a failure to make routine safety checks, which may put you
and others at risk.
If you feel very sleepy or drowsy, stop your work as soon as safely possible
& contact your supervisor to request a break.
Have a caffeinated product in order to help temporarily increase
alertness. But remember that caffeine is not a long-term substitute for
If you have a persistent sleeping problem, seek professional help. A sleep
specialist can evaluate your sleep problem and determine if you have a
THE RIDE HOME
Follow these steps to arrive home safely:
Carpool if possible – have the most alert person do the driving.
Drive defensively, not offensively.
Don’t stop for a “night cap.”
If you are sleepy, stop to nap, but do so in your locked car in a well-lit
Take public transportation, if possible.
OTHER ACTIONS TO MINIMIZE FATIQUE
Educate managers and shift workers about the need for sleep and the
dangers of fatigue.
Install bright lights in work areas. A well-lit workplace signals the body
to be awake and alert.
Provide vending machines with healthy food choices and a microwave.
Schedule shifts to allow sufficient breaks and days off, especially when
workers are re-assigned to different shifts.
Be concerned about employee safety going to and from work. Encourage
the use of car pools, public transportation, rested drivers, and even taxis.
For more information, you can contact the National Sleep Foundation at
www.sleepfoundation.org. NSF offers broad range of public info (i.e.
brochures and videos, etc.) on sleep, sleep aids and sleep disorders.