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Photo of two men in yellow hard hats to illustrate night shift safety tips.

Hidden Hazards: Night Shift Safety Tips

If you employ graveyard shift workers, it is absolutely essential that you are up to date on night shift safety tips.

The third shift, more commonly known as the night shift, usually runs from 11 p.m. or midnight to 7 or 8 a.m. For employees who are also night owls, it has a lot of perks to offer. This includes shift differential pay, a less hectic commute, a quiet work area, and more.

But along with these advantages, the night shift presents a unique set of hazards for your employees. Most of them spring from one problem: a disruption to “circadian rhythms.”

Hidden Dangers of the Night Shift

The Natural Circadian Rhythm

Circadian rhythms are the cycles of bodily processes which run according to humans’ internal clock. This includes sleeping, waking, metabolism, blood pressure, and production of adrenaline. The “factory settings” for our bodies’ circadian rhythms are based on our species’ programming to hunt and gather during the day and to sleep at night.

Trying to invert this schedule, as night shift workers are called on to do, results in a disruption to our internal clocks. That disruption increases a laundry list of harmful effects like:

  • Fatigue from a lack of sleep
  • An inability to focus
  • Slower reaction times
  • Stress
  • Headaches

As you can imagine, employees dealing with these symptoms are at an increased risk of being involved in workplace accidents. Fortunately, there are remedies you can suggest for your night shift employees.

Set – and stick to – a Sleep Schedule

The best way to get your body used to sleeping during the day is to establish a firm time for going to sleep and waking up. If you religiously follow a sleep routine, your body is more likely to accept the fact you are sleeping during the day and working at night.

Limit Light

People on a normal sleep schedule are often advised to stop screen time. This includes smartphones, TVs, and other devices shut off an hour or more before they go to sleep. Blue light given off by these devices can trick your brain into thinking it is daylight, and you should not be asleep. The same holds true for people working on the night shift. However, it is even more important for them to block out all light sources for the best sleep possible.

Pay Attention to Nutrition

Nightshift workers also are susceptible to weight gain due to the food choices their lifestyle leads them to. For instance, picking up food from a drive-thru or tanking up on caffeinated drinks can be particularly tempting.

But malnutrition like this can cause many types of health problems, from the disruption of circadian rhythms to obesity and heart disease. That makes it even more critical for nightshift employees to watch what they eat and drink.

Get More Night Shift Safety Tips

If you are looking for more night shift safety tips, or need to build an engaged and safe workforce, contact ICR. We are staffing, recruiting, and HR specialists, and we want to help you grow your business. Contact us today to learn more about what we offer.

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