For fixed periods over the last two years I have been working morning or night shift for a multi-national business information company. I know shiftwork fairly well although I have never worked rotating shifts and the longest shift worked is around nine hours. That may well categorise me as a wimp to those oil-rig workers, firefighters, bakers and miners out there, but…..
being an OHS professional I have been very watchful of my own health when working shiftwork. On full night shift it took my digestion weeks to break the routine of over forty years. My weight has increased but no chronic illnesses yet. My biggest risk comes from fatigue in the drive to and from work though I have to admit that at 2.30 in the morning in Melbourne, I could use my cruise control on the suburban streets as the traffic is so light.
I have also been more keenly aware of the studies and reports on shiftwork and the health risks associated with it. Often these reports garner considerable media coverage and, as is the way with media, some contrary articles never get a run. Below is a selection of links to articles that highlight increased risk or the reduction of risk in relation to shiftwork:
This is a selection of the most recent and show the difficulties posed to OHS professionals and managers in handling this emerging risk.
For the moment, I am taking the issue of shiftwork out of my personal concerns. I will focus instead on the health, fitness and fatigue issues applying the logic that the hazard variable over which I have the most control is myself.