Springing forward can hurtNews added by Benefits Pro on March 17, 2014
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Joined: September 07, 2011

By Dan Cook

Maybe everyone should just get the day off after clocks are sprung forward for Daylight Savings Time.

Perhaps motivated by a spike in typos or reporting errors by its staff the day after clocks are set forward an hour, Atlantic Monthly nosed around to see if the time change was linked to poor performance at work. The magazine turned up the findings of a 2009 study that identified more mistakes and on-the-job injuries immediately following the time change. The culprit? The 40 minutes of sleep the average American worker loses while adjusting to the change.

OK, so everyone is tired and just a little cranky that day. But what are the results? Here’s what a Michigan State University research team found after analyzing 576,292 mining injuries sustained from 1983 to 2006. (The baseline of on-the-job injuries for coal miners was about 63 injuries on the average Monday):
  • The Monday after Sleepless Sunday, the number of injuries increased by 3.6 injuries, an increase of nearly 6 percent.
  • The number of days of work lost increased by 2,649.
  • The increase in days of work lost meant that the severity of the Monday injuries was higher compared to other Monday injuries.
  • The level of experience of injured workers was not a factor in the number of injuries on Spring Forward Mondays, but it was a clear factor in Fall Back Mondays.
The researchers studied similar stats for the Monday following Fall Backward Sunday. While they found that people tended to sleep about 12 minutes longer on that night, they could identify no clear pattern in injuries the next day, save that the less experienced workers had more, which routinely happens anyway.

What can we take away from this? The scholars wrote in their clearest English: “The ability to predict workplace injuries helps to enable managers and members of organizations to take preventative measures that can mitigate these effects. One manner in which organizations can attempt to avoid the increase in workplace injuries associated with the Daylight Saving Time phase advance is to schedule particularly dangerous work on other days, perhaps later in the week after employees have had more time to adjust their sleep schedules to the phase change. By moving dangerous activities to safer days, organizations can attempt to avoid the dangers of phase advances.

“A second manner in which organizations could attempt to mitigate these effects would be to schedule extra safety monitors on days following phase advances. Such employees could be helpful in anticipating potential workplace injuries before they occur.

Or, we could just declare that Monday a national holiday and, to save limbs, lives and precious corporate dollars, ask everyone to just stay home in bed until they feel well rested again.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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