Recent research has revealed that workers suffer a multitude of problems that are associated with working 12-hour shifts and rotating shifts. Some of these problems can include a disturbed body-clock, shortened and distorted sleep, and a disturbed family and social life.
These issues resulted in acute effects on fatigue, mood and performance when adequate coping strategies are absent. Often times, these issues can progress into chronic effects on the mental and physical well being of a person, as well as a risk of cardiovascular gastrointestinal problems.
Furthermore, the results have revealed the obvious, which is that a lack of sleep or heightened fatigue can increase safety risks.
The research was founded by Professor David Peetz and Associate Professor Georgina Murray of the Griffith University Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing, based on a survey carried out between August and December 2011.
The survey examined the effects of shift rosters and working hours in the mining industry. Respondents included 2566 Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union members and 1915 partners of miners.
A large percentage of respondents referred to sleeping difficulties, use of anti-depressants, and fatigue. Partners found that their spouses were too tired to function properly within the family.
There are growing numbers of studies being conducted into shift rosters as the 24-hour operation of mines and other operations become more prevalent. To many Australians, it is a 24-hour working world.
More info on Occupational Health and Safety
Tasmania Liberal party health spokesman Jeremy Rockliff cited leaked statistics that showed ambulance workers were on the job a total of 3469 hours overtime in the first two months of 2013 in southern Tasmania. He states that the data also shows that at least 30 crew shortages occurred and sometimes service was cancelled completely.
“This is clearly an ambulance service in crisis,” he said.
Rockliff emphasized that staff were under stress which could potentially result in a workplace accident.
“As one paramedic put it in a recent survey: ‘It’s only a matter of time before a staff member crashes a vehicle or suffers major ill health due to exceeding their stress-fatigue limit’,” Mr Rockliff said.
The Government stated an additional $48 million had been spent on ambulance services over four years, but demand for services was on the rise.
To cope with the demand, an additional 18 paramedics have been employed since December and 12 more are expected to be employed in April.
More info on Fatigue Management
The proposal falls under national health and safety laws that were implemented to improve fatigue management.
Employers are angry that the new laws designates them as the “yawn police” , always on duty for workplace fatigue.The government agency’s fatigue management checklist includes headaches, daydreaming, constant yawning, low motivation and moodiness. It has reportedly been proposed that bosses ‘eliminate or reduce the need to work extended hours or overtime’ to avoid fatigue dangers.
“If a worker leaves their job tired and exhausted they may be less able to enjoy out of work activities or could be a danger to themselves and others in the community,” the draft code states
The code states that If a worker arrives to work and is deemed unfit to work because of a lack of sleep, illness or other condition, the worker may be less productive and could endanger themselves or others.The report reveals that the the code recommends that employers train workers in ‘balancing work and personal lifestyle demands’.
Truckers will no longer feel as compelled to exceed or disregard the work safety limits since the Federal Government has pledged to introduce a plan that would increase the driver’s wages and decrease their death toll.
Earlier in the week, a survey was released indicating that many truck drivers felt like they needed to speed, overload their trucks, or take drugs in order to stay awake for long hours. The survey said many of them believed that the only way they could make ends meet was by breaking the OHS regulations.
A tribunal has been set to unveil binding pay and conditions for truck drivers by July 2012. The tribunal is set to include members from Fair Work Australia and health and safety experts.
Drivers indicated on the aforementioned survey, that they felt pressure to break fatigue management regulations. A quarter of them stated that they drove too fast in order to meet deadlines.Trucking accidents cost $2.7 Billion last year in federal funds. The government believes that the changes would make the roads much safer. This new initiative will be rewarded for the reasonable work that they do, but that there would no longer be any financial incentive to break OHS regulations.
Throughout the past 2 years workers at the forefront of the ACT’s most hazardous and high-pressure professions have received a million dollars in recompense because of the stress they experience at their jobs. The Emergency Service Agency –which supervises firefighters and ambulance staff, as well as the State Emergency Service which is mostly volunteers – said one of its workers was on mental health leave for 138 weeks.
ACT Policing stated that $434,304 was rewarded to staff in the last two fiscal years in stress leave compensation.Throughout the last two fiscal years the territory’s firefighters have been granted $492,130 while ambulance staff has not been rewarded any stress payments.
Eight staff members at the ACT Health Directorate, have filed claims for ”adjustment disorder”, the directorate said. This year, three claims have been acknowledged and $41,887 remunerated. Hospital nurse and University of Canberra assistant professor Jamie Ranse stated that a number of urgent incidents often caused the most stress. Stress can lead to fatigue management problems.
Mr Ranse, 31, also indicated that situations that remind nurses of their own mortality or susceptibility to illnesses, can cause stress.Employees who are parents, see children being brought in to the hospital, which can also be stressful.
Ranse said after big situations ‘debriefing’ sessions are conducted.Ranse continued by mentioning that some people have different ways of coping and thus ‘debriefing’ sessions may not be beneficial to them.All the agencies claimed that workers who find themselves under immense stress have access to confidential counselling as well as programs aimed at teaching stress management .