Four Effects Daylight Savings Time can have on Health and Safety
“Lack of sleep, even an amount as small as 40 minutes,
can affect workplace incidents following the spring time change.”
Once again, much of the country will ‘spring forward’ into Daylight Savings Time this March. In the process we shift our daily schedules ahead, ostensibly losing an hour of valuable sleep. There are distinct benefits and risks to moving the clock forward and back during the year, and discussion continues as to whether the practice should continue or not.
This 100 year old concept still remains a controversial solution to a debatable problem. The argument for changing the clocks, in spring and fall, is based on energy conservation and stimulating the retail and entertainment sectors of the economy by increasing the number of daylight hours following the traditional workday. However, there is documented fallout that could be detrimental to your health and safety.
Four interesting effects of the time change on health and safety are:
1. Increased risk of workplace injuries and accidents
Lack of sleep, even an amount as small as 40 minutes, can affect workplace incidents following the spring time change. It has been documented that the week following the onset of day light savings time, there is an increase in the frequency and severity of accidents and injuries, including car accidents.
2. Increased risk of heart attack
It has been found that sleep disturbance, particularly lack of sleep, can release stress hormones that increase inflammation. This can cause more severe complications in people who are already at risk of having a heart attack.
3. Increased incidence of cluster headaches or migraines
The body can notice the difference in sleep patterns, even if it’s just by one hour. The lack of sleep disturbs the circadian rhythms, which can alter the release of hormones that affect mood, hunger and desire for sleep. The result can trigger bouts of debilitating pain, like cluster headaches or migraines.
4. Increased cyber surfing by employees during work hours
Although not necessarily a health risk, there has been a noted increase in the amount of time spent ‘surfing the net’ during work hours, which has a direct effect on motivation and productivity, specifically, on the Monday following the time change.
Through the convenience of computers, the Internet, virtual offices, flexible work hours and developments in alternative and renewable energy resources, daylight savings time could easily become irrelevant and obsolete as the risks begin to outweigh the benefits. While the debate rages on, acknowledging the issues and preparing for the Monday after a time change could help prevent some of the negative impact. Here are a few ideas:
- Consider a late or flexible start on the Monday morning following the time change. Allowing employees a little extra time to get going could help clear the morning fog and get focused on the day.
- Ensure there is nothing new or any major organizational changes that go into effect on Monday. Keeping things as routine as possible allows employees to focus on what they know.
- Have something organized that interesting and fun during the day like having donuts for morning coffee break or ordering pizza for lunch. Breaking the monotony of the day with a little perk can improve motivation and engagement.
- Use the day as a review of health and safety policies and procedures. Since the day is poses a safety hazard, reviewing how to be safe could be a proactive measure.
- Check in with your employees or co-workers to see if they are experiencing any impact of the time change. Acknowledging their feelings of fatigue, lethargy and being out of sorts can help them identify why they don’t feel on their game and allow them to address it.
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