Ergonomics for Night Shift Workers
June 07, 2022
15% of full-time employees in the US work during the night hours, which is known to increase the risk of fatigue. It can lead to Shift Work Disorder and companies can face an increase in the risk of errors and accidents. Workers who are sleep-deprived or not getting enough sunlight or human interaction are prone to becoming moodier, taking more sick leaves, making mistakes, and can even be difficult to work with.
It can become urgent for companies to take some action to ensure that their workforce is healthy and happy as they work. This is where ergonomics can play a crucial role. Ergonomics takes into account the way the body is shaped and ensures that workers are in the correct posture as they do their work. This can reduce complaints of body aches and painful wrists.
Problems Faced by Night Shift Workers
Let’s take a closer look at the issues that night shift workers often face as research shows. Here are some risks of working the night shift.
Most work accidents usually occur during the night shift
Single truck accidents usually occur during the night shift
Up to 40% of truck accidents are related to fatigue
Up to 50% of increased accident risk is experienced during the night shift in manufacturing plants
Fatal accidents in the workplace are higher for night shift workers
A study spanning 2 decades showed that errors in meter readings at gas companies increased during the night shift.
The nuclear disaster at Chernobyl was due to a human error that occurred due to scheduling and night shift issues.
Reported errors are twice more likely for nurses that work on rotating night shifts.
When extended work shifts are decreased, it reduced attention failures during the night shift.
Decrease in Productivity
A significant decline is seen in worker productivity due to sleep deprivation from night shifts.
Telephone operators were found to connect calls more slowly in a night shift.
In a textile mill, the speed of the spinning threads is greatly reduced during the night shift.
What all of this shows is that the night shift can take a toll on the human body and the ability of the workers to work productively, safely, and efficiently. This is why it is vital for companies to follow some ergonomic tips for night shift workers.
Ergonomic Tips for Night Shift Workers
The night shift can already be quite a tiring process but can become work when you spend hours at the desk for prolonged periods. It can greatly affect your health and body since a sedentary lifestyle when coupled with zero sunlight and sleep deprivation.
Ergonomics can help in a major way since even small changes in the workstation can affect productivity and health. The workstation definitely shouldn’t wear employees down but a messy desk, bad lighting, and uncomfortable chairs can do just that. A few adjustments and changes can be quite beneficial in tackling this problem for workers on the night shift.
Make Sure the Lighting Is Suitable
Lighting has a powerful impact on mood and well-being when working in an office. Dim or harsh lighting can result in stress, fatigue, and eye strain –all of which already affect night shift workers a lot. Since night shift workers often don’t get a lot of suns, it is definitely important to ensure proper lighting in the office for workers.
Sunlight helps maintain the internal circadian rhythms and internal clocks that affect energy and sleep as well as the production of serotonin. Since night shift workers are deprived of that, try and incorporate lighting in the office that allows them to properly see without straining their eyes. Get a proper desk lamp that offers workers plenty of light!
Since the position of the light matters a lot too, the desk lamp needs to offer the flexibility of allowing workers to move the light source around to where it is needed the most. Make sure the light doesn’t leave a glare on the monitor while working.
Have the Perfect Desk Height
Choosing a desk that comes with adjustable height options can be crucial for night shift workers. Since duty rotation means that workers are often sharing desks with daytime employees, the adjustability feature is necessary for them. The Willow Standing Desk offers workers the option to adjust the height of the desk to the best possible position.
The desk will allow you to type on your keyboard with the arms parallel to the ground, legs fitting comfortably under the desk when you are seated, and your feet flat on the ground.
It can also be beneficial to switch between the sitting and standing position often for workers. Researchers have found that prolonged sitting can increase the risk of spine damage, blood pressure, cancer, obesity, diabetes, and other health problems. Standing for just 15 minutes every hour can significantly increase your daily physical activity so that you can stay healthier. Do make sure to do this over time so that your body gets used to the extra standing time.
Get Ergonomic Chairs
After the workstation, the most important piece of office furniture for night shift workers is the chair! If you are prone to working long hours while sitting, it is vital to get an ergonomic office chair.
Here are some features that every proper office desk should have:
Lumbar Support: The back of your chair needs to support the curve of your lower spine to ensure that you are sitting following the natural lower back curve.
Seat Depth: Ergonomic chairs that fit the body allow workers to sit with the lower back against the lumbar support of the chair. They also leave up to two inches between the seat and knees.
The Height of the Chair: The height needs to be perfect so that your feet are flat on the ground. If you are still too short, make sure to get a footrest.
Arm Rests: The arm rests are crucial for preventing wrist pain. They should ensure that the shoulders are hunched over and the arms stay parallel to the ground even when using the keyboard or the mouse.
Reclining options: The chair should be reclined at around 135 degrees to support the spine since that can be better for it.
Material: Mesh materials for the back of the chair can result in people staying cool while they work. It should also be durable so that it can last for a long time.
The more adjustability the chair provides in all of these areas, the more likely it is for you to stay comfortable all night long. The ergonomic chairs by FlexiSpot are specially designed to provide you with this comfort.
Ensure Good Monitor Placement
The position of the monitor greatly impacts your work too. If it isn’t positioned properly, it can result in shoulder problems, improper posture, eye strain, neck pains, and more.
Here is how the monitor should be kept:
The screen should be 20-40 inches away from the face. If it is too far away, you will eventually lean forward, resulting in your back becoming unsupported. If it’s too close, it can damage your eyes. Instead of straining your eyes, zoom into the text if it is too small.
The top of the screen should be below or at eye level. If it is too high, the neck, head, and back can get strained. The downward angle should be fewer than 60 degrees either.
The monitor should be perpendicular to light sources to prevent glares that strain the eyes.
Get an anti-reflective surface for your glasses if you experience headaches, dry eyes, or eye strain after using the monitor for too long. Give your eyes a break too when you are working since it is crucial for workers to rest their eyes too.
Night shift workers tend to experience different problems than those working in the day shift. Companies need to go out of their way to make sure that their employees are working in a safe and healthy environment since it can greatly impact their bodies. Following the ergonomic tips for night shift workers above can help create a better environment for employees to work in.
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