Warning: daylight savings increases injury risk

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Spring forward, fall back – the handy way to remember which way the clocks are going may also be an indicator of what could happen if employers aren’t extra vigilant in the coming days.

That’s because, according to a research by Michigan State University, employees are more likely to be injured in the days following a daylight savings switch.

In two separate studies, doctoral candidates Christopher Barnes and David Wagner found that the March switch resulted in 40 minutes less sleep, a 5.7 per cent increase in workplace injuries and nearly 68 per cent more work days lost to injuries.

Essentially, not only did more injuries occur but those that did happen were more severe.

Does one hour really make that much difference?

“Yes, it can,” insisted Barnes. “Especially for those engaged in jobs requiring a high level of attention to detail. Studies have shown that lost sleep causes attention levels to drop off.”
The National Sleep Foundation agrees and says it will take most people a few days to adjust to the relatively minor loss of sleep.

Barnes and Wagner’s study, published by the Journal of Applied Psychology, says losing just one hour of sleep could pose “dangerous consequences for those in hazardous work environments.”

Tips for employers

The authors say this isn’t just a coincidence and urge employers to take precautionary measures in the workplace.
  • Make your employees aware of the potential increased risk – remind them that it’s okay to take extra breaks.
  • Consider rescheduling hazardous work for later in the week, once workers have had a chance to adjust.
  • Implement extra safety precautions during the week.
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