Safety professionals know well that daylight saving time makes workplaces and roads more hazardous, contributing to a number of serious and fatal incidents each year, including:
- a significant increase in heart attacks on Mondays following daylight saving time, and
- an increase in fatal car crashes.
Due to fatigue caused by an hour of lost sleep, workplaces can expect a sudden and significant rise in the number of mistakes and distractions among their workers. Employees are also much more likely to have less concentration and slower reaction times, which can affect their safety for as long as it takes them to adjust to daylight saving time.
Workplaces should consider reminding people of the dangers of daylight saving time and provide them with guidance on how to handle this period of increased risk. Thankfully, there are resources available for employers to use, including:
- A poster on the risks of sudden time change and basic advice.
- A handout with tips for a smoother transition.
These resources provide advice that, if applied, can help employees avoid or minimize the fatigue and distractions caused by their loss of sleep. The posters include tips such as:
Adjust your bedtime gradually before the daylight saving date. A week before the clocks change, go to bed and get up ten minutes earlier. The next day, get up and go to bed another ten minutes earlier, continuing this pattern until you’re going to bed and getting up an hour earlier than usual. This will allow your body to slowly adjust to the change instead of being hit with it all at once. It takes time but it also makes the transition a little easier.
You can access the poster and the handout here.
How can workplaces help
The poster should be displayed in prominent places at least ten days ahead of daylight saving time and it should be used in conjunction with a safety talk on the subject. This is also the time to distribute the handout to the employees. Organizations should remind workers to start adjusting their sleep routine a week before daylight saving time.
Some workplaces have the means to adjust work schedules to account for the lost hour of sleep, which would certainly help contribute to worker safety. If that’s impossible to do, managers should show understanding if their employees are more prone to mistakes or distractions for a few weeks following the daylight saving time and focus on their safety accordingly.
Just one hour of lost sleep might not seem like a big deal, but most people are usually already fatigued, so that additional hour can have serious consequences. This is a time when organizations should focus on preventing incidents caused by fatigue and try to make the transition into daylight saving time easier and safer.