Job Safety

August 24, 2005

Overtime Risks

The following is straight from Circadian Technologies’ news email.

More Evidence on the Risks of Overtime
Research from the University of Massachusetts shows a strong link between working overtime and sustaining a work-related injury. This was found to be true for all occupations, not just those that were physically demanding or in dangerous industries. Of the 110,000 job records that were studied, 5,139 injuries were recorded – more than half of the injuries occurred to people who worked overtime. Working longer hours (12 hours a day or more) was associated with a 37 percent increase in risk, while working 60 hours a week of more was associated with a 23% increase in injuries. (Chantal Britt, Bloomberg, “Overtime, Long Hours Increase Illness, Injury Risk, Study Shows” August 22, 2005)

Circadian Commentary:
This study adds to the wealth of scientific knowledge that has already shown that working long hours has negative health effects. Care must be taken when interpreting the report as it pertains to 12-hour shifts. Previous research has shown that there are no extra safety risks for 12-hour shifts compared to 8-hour shifts, in the absence of excess overtime. However, if more than 4 consecutive 12-hour shifts are worked, there will be the potential for increased health and accident risks. CIRCADIAN recommends a maximum overtime rate of around 12% – this provides flexibility for the organization, the chance to earn some extra cash for the employees, but won’t increase health and accident rates. Employers should also look at the distribution of overtime – a facility may have an average overtime rate of 10%, but just a small minority of employees may be working it all. (Alex Kerin, [email protected])