For some companies, shutting down for the night is never an option. Instead, shifts work around the clock in order to ensure that work gets done well and on time.
While your company may never sleep, the human brain isn’t as consistent. Even when your overnight shift workers get adequate sleep, the brain often interprets nighttime to be a slower, more relaxed part of the day. Without careful attention to this tendency, it can manifest as more lax safety procedures after the sun goes down.
Here’s what to look for when considering nighttime safety habits.
1. Do accidents occur more often, and if so, where?
Even one accident points to a problem that might need to be addressed in order to prevent a repeat occurrence. A pattern of accidents over weeks, months or years can provide even more information.
Start by analyzing accident reports from all shifts. Look not only for increases during certain shifts, but also what types of accidents occur more commonly and where they take place. This data can help you tighten up safety procedures and improve nighttime safety scores.
2. Are there differences in nighttime versus daytime culture?
It’s easy to think of nighttime as a more relaxed shift, especially since businesses often have fewer staff in the building during these hours. But when your teams think of the night shift as more relaxed, they may relax standards that shouldn’t be overlooked – resulting in more accidents and injuries.
Talk to shift managers about the culture on their teams and within the building while they’re at work. Pay attention to how they describe these cultures, and work to instill the same level of focus and attentiveness throughout the day.
3. How can you encourage workers’ brains to “think daytime”?
Some influences of nighttime shift work are subtle. Even when workers feel fully rested and alert, the fact that the sun has set can cause more primitive parts of the brain to act as if it’s bedtime.
Tools like full-spectrum light bulbs can help night shift workers’ brains “think daytime,” releasing the same chemicals they would if the sun were actually shining. This, in turn, can lead to an increased sense of alertness and focus that can help prevent accidents.
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