A study conducted by researchers in British Colombia found that Canadians working night and rotating shifts have almost double the chance of being injured on the job as those working day shifts. The study was based on data published by Statistics Canada, which compared 30,000 people working different shifts, from 1996-2006.
Compared to day-shift work in terms of incurring injuries, night-shift work is twice as risky for women and 1.9 times as risky for men. Rotating-shift work is 2.29 times as risk for women.
Researchers hope that these findings will increase awareness among those working outside the regular 9:00am-5:00pm hours. They concluded that "additional occupational health and safety policies and programmes are needed to reduce risk of work injury among night- and rotating-shift workers, especially among women".
The gender difference could arise from the possibility that women have greater difficulty adjusting to shift work and keeping regular sleep schedules, as they are also most likely to be responsible for childcare and housework.
Possible solutions could be to shorten night shifts, or to include longer breaks to prevent fatigue at work.
The researchers did note that the study has several limitations, including unreported injuries. The study also excluded certain aspects of shift work, such as the length of the shift, which may be important for understanding workplace injuries.
In all, researchers expressed hope that these findings would encourage dialogue between workers and employers to explore options that may reduce injury risk in the workplace.
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