Losing Sleep Over Daylight Saving Time May Increase Workplace Injuries

Every year on the last Sunday in March, we turn our clocks ahead an hour for a
much welcomed extra hour of daylight, and in the process they sacrifice
precious minutes of sleep. So goes the start of Daylight Saving Time (DST),
which continues until the last Sunday in October.

Based on analysis of a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics database that tracks how
Americans use their time, employees on average get 40 minutes less sleep on the
Sunday night of the switch to DST. That loss of sleep may not seem like much
but a study by Michigan State University researchers has found that the Monday
following the switch to DST can be a particularly dangerous one. These
researchers analyzed information from the U.S. National Institute of
Occupational Safety and Health database of mining injuries from 1983-2006.
Their research showed that there were 5.7% more workplace injuries and 67.6%
more work days missed due to injuries on the first Monday following DST than on
other days.

This research suggests that less sleep may increase both the incidence and
severity of injuries. The increased danger isn't just confined to the
workplace. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) reports a
higher driving risk the first Monday after DST. According to statistics
averaged from 2005-2009, on the Monday following the start of DST, car
accidents increased 23%.

Perhaps not surprisingly, people have a much easier time adjusting to the
switch back to standard time. The same rates of accident and injury do not
occur on the Mondays in November when people gain an hour.

So, as the second Monday in March approaches, pay extra attention to employee
schedules, sleep, and safety, because as the statistics show, the gains in
daylight with DST may come at a human cost.

Tips to ease the effects of the switch to DST

  • Rest up: Go to bed earlier to get your usual amount of sleep so you can be well rested and alert.
  • Defer the dangerous: Schedule particularly hazardous work later in the week (where possible) after employees have had more time to adjust their sleep schedules.
  • Plan ahead: Give yourself extra time to drive to and from work, especially during the Monday commute, to avoid a potential accident.
  • Step up the safety: Take extra safety precautions and assign extra safety monitors on days following the switch to DST to help avoid potential workplace injuries before they occur.

Further Information - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety