Daylight Saving Time (DST) is observed in nearly all U.S. states, and this coming Sunday, March 11, Americans throughout the country (with the exception of those in Hawaii and Arizona) will be setting their clocks one hour ahead. Although many of us enjoy “springing forward” because it means more light during the day and spring and summer months ahead, there are some risks associated with the practice of changing our clocks – especially when it comes to safety in the workplace.
Over the years, numerous studies have focused on Daylight Saving Time and how even a minor disruption in sleep can pose risks. This includes not only an increase in auto accidents following the time change, but also its significant impact on workplace safety. Some of the most notable studies on the subject have shown the following:
- One study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology reviewed data on hundreds of thousands of mining injuries between 1983 and 2006. Researchers found that on an average Monday, coal miners reported an average of 63 job-related injuries. On the Monday from the DST time change, however, that average increased by nearly 4 injuries, or 5.7%. The study also noted that the severity of injuries increased, and that the average number of days missed by workers injured on the post-DST Monday increased by nearly 68%.
- A study funded by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration show that most workers get an average of 40 minutes less sleep on the Monday after Daylight Saving Time.
- Numerous studies have shown increases in fatal and non-fatal accidents following Daylight Saving Time, a spike experts credit to a lack of sufficient sleep caused by the time change disruption. Post-DST auto accident risks are also higher for drivers in the transportation industry. According to a study from the National Transportation Safety Board, fatigue has a significant impact on transit operators’ ability to avoid wrecks, including train engineers and conductors.
The major take-away from these statistics is that fatigue and disrupted sleeping patterns – even those and small and seemingly insignificant as a one-hour time change – can have major consequences on our ability to stay safe on the road and in the workplace. That’s because sleep disruption affects critical cognitive functions we use on the job and behind the wheel. For example, experts note that:
- Even minor sleep disruptions can affect our ability to focus, be aware of surroundings, and react to situations from which accidents and injuries can result. In fact, one AAA study noted that missing one to two hours of rest during a single night can make motorists as likely to crash as if they were legally intoxicated.
- Fatigue is such a problem that it can render the various safety measures adopted by workplaces ineffective, which is why some studies also show an increase in the severity of workplace injuries in addition to the total number of injuries.
Safety advocates have used these statistics to remind workers and employers about increased risks they may face come Monday morning, and some have even called for workplaces to adjust schedules that allow workers to start later on the first several days following the time change. However, getting adequate sleep is critical to one’s health and ability to safely perform job-related duties at all times of the year, which is why you should prioritize healthy sleeping habits to ensure you’re rested and ready for work. Unfortunately, a lack of sleep is common among American working adults, and it can have real consequences.
If you or someone you love has suffered a job-related injury, it is important to know that your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance is a form of no-fault coverage, which means you can obtain medical and wage benefits no matter who was at fault for your accident. To learn more about workers’ compensation in Illinois, your rights, and how our Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers at Leonard Law Group can help you, contact us for a free consultation.