Thursday, January 13, 2005

Extended work hours cause car crashes

For those interested in off the job safety.

This paper demonstrates the off-the-job consequences of extended work hours, in this case, a 3 fold increase in reported motor vehicle crashes.

OSHA and NIOSH and health promotion providers would do well to consider extended work hours as a risk factor as they expend their scarce resources on traffic safety issues. While industrial workers don't often work 24 hour shifts, by comparison to interns, they also don't get to nap on the job during down time either. 80 hour weeks for industrial workers are not that rare.

BrooklynDodger thinks this would certainly be a more productive work-based intervention than telling people to wear their seatbelts and not drive drunk.

[Recent publications also demonstrate increased medical errors arising from these work shifts.]

NEJM Volume 352:125-134 January 13, 2005 Number 2

Extended Work Shifts and the Risk of Motor Vehicle Crashes among Interns

Laura K. Barger, Ph.D., Brian E. Cade, M.S., Najib T. Ayas, M.D., M.P.H., John W. Cronin, M.D., Bernard Rosner, Ph.D., Frank E. Speizer, M.D., Charles A. Czeisler, Ph.D., M.D., for the Harvard Work Hours, Health, and Safety Group

We conducted a prospective nationwide, Web-based survey in which 2737 residents in their first postgraduate year (interns) completed monthly reports that provided detailed information about work hours, work shifts of an extended duration, documented motor vehicle crashes, near-miss incidents, and incidents involving involuntary sleeping.

The odds ratios for reporting a motor vehicle crash and for reporting a near-miss incident after an extended work shift, as compared with a shift that was not of extended duration, were 2.3 and 5.9 respectively. In a prospective analysis, every extended work shift that was scheduled in a month increased the monthly risk of a motor vehicle crash by 9.1 percent and increased the monthly risk of a crash during the commute from work by 16.2 percent.

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