The hours we work and the hours we sleep are a crucial health and safety issue. Our healthcare frontline shift workers are facing more threats to their sleep health, their wellbeing, productivity and mental health.
There is increasing evidence becoming available that shift work can lead to very serious health and safety consequences. Shift work can be described as any shift outside the normal daylight hours of 7am to 6pm. Frontline healthcare workers routinely fall into these working hours. Particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic working hours have been disrupted right across the healthcare sector and there appears to be an increased blurring of the boundaries between work and home.
ASAC is focused on improving health and productivity outcomes for healthcare workers as there is increasing research linking shift work to poorer sleep, burnout, circadian rhythm disturbances, accidents and injuries and strains on family and social life. Night work and shift work have been linked to serious conditions from cancer to heart disease. It is not possible to eliminate shift work from our healthcare sector so it is necessary to develop tools, policies and strategies to make critical services available whilst ensuring workers remain healthy. In addition to more workers working shift work, there are growing numbers of workers working long hours on a regular basis, pushing them into shift work territory.
See the Alertness CRC outputs to look at the various outputs aimed at improving Healthcare Workers’ and other shift workers’ health.