Keeping Shift Workers Healthy

Shiftwork and the Bottom Line

Shift work is defined as work done outside of regular daylight hours and varies from workplace to workplace. The 2005 General Social Survey (GSS) from Statistics Canada found that 28% of employed Canadians were shift workers.

Shift workers are particularly at risk for a variety of physical and mental health problems external link pdf 129KB. These may include:

  • Cardiovascular disease 
  • Cancer 
  • Gastrointestinal disorders 
  • Mental health issues 
  • Workplace-related injury 
  • Disruption in family and social life
As an employer, anything that affects the health of your staff has an impact on the bottom line. This can mean:

  • Higher rates of absenteeism 
  • Higher disability costs 
  • Lower staff morale 
  • Higher staff turnover

What Employers Can Do

  • Optimize shift schedules 
  • Allow for longer rest periods between shift cycles 
  • Keep schedules simple and predictable 
  • Provide good lighting and ventilation in the work environment 
  • Consider adding rest facilities 
  • Offer a workplace fitness centre with 24-hour access to exercise equipment 
  • Follow the food guidelines for the workplace to create a healthy nutrition environment 
  • Encourage workers to form interest groups that promote physical activity 
  • Educate shift work staff on how to stay healthy

Resources

Shiftwork: Health Effects and Solutions external link pdf 129KB
Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc

Related Links

Rotational Shiftwork external link
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety 

Healthy Places
Government of Alberta