I spent part of a “nearly summer-like” Sunday putting up Christmas decorations last weekend, so it’s time to talk about some holiday season workers’ compensation topics.
More falls when you fallback? If you are like me, you probably feel a little off the Monday after a time change. But does feeling a little off lead to more work injuries or accidents?. Studies say that while losing an hour of sleep during the spring ahead leads to more injuries, falling back in the fall doesn’t lead to more injuries. Experts believe this is because the fallback means people don’t lose sleep. (Parents of young children and pets may beg to differ about an extra hour of sleep)
I would imagine that these programs could become more popular due to business concerns over alleged labor shortages. If you can’t find workers to do jobs, you can always try coercing injured workers with the prospect of losing their workers’ compensation benefits and their job for refusing a volunteer assignment.
I went off on these arrangements last year. In short, their benefits are oversold and they create lots of practical problems for injured employees. They also re-enforce the power imbalance between injured workers and employers.
Employers and employees should exercise extra caution after daylight saving time. According to a study by done by Michigan State University, work accidents increased by 5.7 percent the Monday after daylight saving time. Studies also show that people sleep 40 minutes less on the Sunday night after daylight saving time than they do normally. This may explain why many people feel tired at work in the days after daylight saving time. When people are tired it makes sense that they are more likely to have accidents.
Some people have advocated for switching daylight saving time to Friday night/Saturday morning in order for people who work Monday through Friday more time to adapt to the time change. This author agrees with that proposal. If at all possible, I also think it makes sense to try to limit hazardous activities during the transition to daylight saving time. But employees need to meet business needs and changing the date of daylight saving time would take an act of Congress. This discussion is especially interesting as National Sleep Awareness Week was Mar. 3-10 this year.
Even though the risk of injury because of sleep deprivation increases during the transition to daylight saving time, sleep deprivation increases the chances for work accidents year-round and can have other effects on people from a long-term perspective. Employees wishing to reduce the risk of accident during the transition to daylight saving time should adapt good sleep habits such as limiting exposure to light at night and ending caffeine intake in the afternoon. This link has more tips for healthy sleep habits.