The 40-hour work week is pretty standard here in the United States, but that doesn’t mean everyone hits this milestone by working five 8-hour shifts. A lot of workers get their hours in by working four 10-hour shifts, while others work 12-hours or more at a time. Some employees love that longer shifts usually result in fewer total days of work, but these long work shifts can come with their own downsides and risks. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at some of the health risks associated with working longer shifts, and how you can collect workers’ compensation if you are injured during one of these extended shifts.
Risks Associated With Long Work Shifts
Whether you’re a long-haul trucker, a nurse working her weekend rotation or a bartender pulling a double shift, there are plenty of employees who regularly work longer than an eight-hour work day. While the paycheck may look healthy when it comes, there’s a decent chance that these extended hours are putting you at a heightened risk of injury. Here’s a look at some of the more common causes of injuries among individuals who work long shifts.
Overexertion/Overstress – Regardless of whether you work a very manual labor job or you’re in an office all day, being in the same position or working the same muscle groups for 10-12 hours or more each day on a regular basis can lead to an overstress injury. Strains, sprains and muscle tears are all more common during extended shifts where you’re putting stress on your body over a long period of time. Back strains, rotator cuff injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome are all issues that can develop in active or sedentary workers who work long shifts and repeatedly stress these areas.
Fatigue-Related Injuries – If you’re tired because you’ve been driving or helping patients for 10+ hours, you’re at a higher risk for injury than a well-rested individual. Fatigue can slow our responses or make us less aware of our surroundings, all of which can contribute to injury likelihood. Sometimes people can even dose off during that shift, and while that may not be as detrimental for a nurse who sat down in a chair during a rare moment of quiet on her floor, it can be life changing for a truck driver. Fatigue is a real issue for employees who work extended shifts.
Difficulty Seeing – If you’re working longer than eight hours, there’s a good chance you’re performing some of your work in limited light or even the dark. This isn’t usually a problem for employees who work in a well-lit warehouse or office building, but it can cause issues for those who work outdoors. Construction workers who work at night during times when there is less traffic on the road also take the risk that drivers will be less likely to see them at night.
Stress – Studies have also shown that long work hours can result in heightened stress levels, and stress can increase your risk of injury in a number of ways. It can make you lose focus, it can lead you to act in an unsafe manner in order to meet demands, and it can even physically and mentally affect your health. You may not feel like your job is always a source of stress, but there will be stressful times, and if you’re working longer shifts and have an extended duration where you can’t step away from the situation and relieve yourself of this stress, it could end up being a source of injury.
These are just a few of the factors that can make you more likely to suffer an on the job injury, and we’ve seen all of these injuries during our time as a workers’ compensation firm. It’s also worth noting that if your company ignored shift regulations or forced you to work longer than legally allowed and it resulted in your injury, you could have a separate lawsuit on your hands. If you or someone you know was injured on their extended shift, or at any time during their normal shift, reach out to Dean and the team at Margolis Law Firm to learn how we can get you the compensation you deserve.