Daylight Savings Time - Increased Workplace Accidents

On November 5, 2017, most Americans turned their clocks back one hour for the end of Daylight Savings Time.  While this means an extra hour of sleep, surprisingly it can also take a toll on health and cause an increase in safety incidents.

The end of Daylight Savings Time can leave many feeling fatigued, which can pose safety risks both at home and in the workplace.  Some things to keep in mind when switching back to standard time are:

Fatigue - Don’t be surprised if you feel a bit sluggish during the first week or so of November.  An extra hour of sleep can be a welcome respite for many people.  But it can also disrupt normal sleep patterns, throwing off the body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm.  So, while it may be great to have the extra hour of sleep, it is possible that within a few days it can lead to worse sleep, including insomnia or sleepiness. 

Accidents - Evidence suggests that time changes increase safety problems both at work and at home.  Just being aware of the increased risk of accidents in the period immediately following the time change may help you stay alert.  Try to avoid building up a sleep debt before the change, by getting the proper amount of rest.  Adults require 7-9 hours of sleep to be rested.

Those who work in the comfy confines of a carpeted office, may not feel this threat applies to them.  However, others who work in physically demanding jobs, such as public works and sanitation, have been shown to experience more frequent and severe workplace injuries.  Use the occasion of setting your clocks back as a cue for all at work and home to:

  • Pay additional attention while driving: The end of daylight saving time comes with an increase of darkness around the time of rush hour, when traffic is at a peak and many are making their way home from work.  Drivers aren’t used to the decreased visibility – nor are pedestrians, who might take chances crossing roads when they shouldn’t.
  • Stay focused and alert on the task at hand while working in the dark:  Performing any task in the dark may make you drowsy.
  • Check and replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms:  Ensure they are working properly and replace the batteries.  As the cold sets in and many start up their gas-fired furnaces, fireplaces, portable heater units and the like for the first time, carbon monoxide poisoning risks increase dramatically.  Replace any smoke alarm older than 10 years and any CO alarm that is older than 5 years.
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