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Shift Work Risks, Injuries, and Workers’ Compensation Claims

Individuals who are considered shift workers are those that work outside the ordinary working hours of eight or nine in the morning until five in the afternoon.  Shift workers are often necessary for workplaces that need to stay open or maintain production twenty-four hours a day.  These workplaces can include police stations, hospitals, grocery stores, manufacturing plants, and utility companies.

Not every shift worker keeps the same schedule, and even an individual worker may not necessarily work the same shifts every time.  For instance, some workers might rotate shifts so that sometimes they are working during daylight hours while other times they work at night.  How long a shift is will depend on the job and the needs of the workplace, but they can be eight, ten, or twelve hours long.  Some shift workers work five days a week, while others may maintain a more erratic schedule.  No matter what kind of shift schedule a worker keeps, there are particular risks and health and safety issues that do not necessarily arise during regular nine to five working hours.

Shift work can be especially hard on a worker’s health because it can interfere with the natural sleep-wake cycle of the brain.  If a worker is required to be awake and alert while working during the hours when the brain usually wants to sleep, the worker’s health can be adversely impacted just based on the fact that the worker has to fight the brain’s natural urge to want to sleep.

Some of the risks that are associated with shift work and the effects that an abnormal sleep-wake cycle can have on one’s health include:

  • An increased risk of injury and illness which can include an increased risk of getting involved in or causing industrial accidents and motor vehicle accidents;
  • Impairments to one’s emotional health, including anxiety and depression;
  • Impairments to mental functioning which can cause workers to make mistakes that might lead to accidents;
  • Sleep deprivation;
  • Impairments to an individual’s physical health which can include insomnia and long-term or chronic immune system problems;
  • Damage to personal relationships like marriages and friendships;
  • Increased risk of chronic health problems like mental health issues, gastrointestinal problems, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.

While shift work does place workers at a greater risk for injury and illness, many employers take steps to protect their workers from those risks.  For example, some employers allow their workers to take regular breaks every couple of hours so that workers can be more effective and alert, which might not be the case if they were working longer hours with fewer breaks.  In other instances, employers mandate rest periods, such as ten hours between shifts so that workers can obtain uninterrupted sleep that is necessary for human brain functioning.  However, even with employment practices such as these, accidents and illnesses can still happen during shift work.  If a shift worker’s injuries are job-related, they may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

Experienced and Dedicated Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in California

If you have been injured or have suffered an illness as a result of a work-related accident or incident, particularly if the accident happened in the Hemet, San Bernardino, or Inland Empire areas, you might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits under California’s workers’ compensation law.  Albert E. Hirst, III, has many years of experience dealing with the claims of injured workers and he has the resources and the knowledge that is necessary to help you obtain the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.  Call our office today at (909) 885-7190 to schedule your free initial consultation and find out what we can do to help you.