Let today’s article serve two purposes for you today. First, we at Optimum Safety Management would like to remind you to set your clocks ahead this Sunday. Secondly, we would like to issue a warning for you and your employees—don’t let daylight savings time cause workplace injuries to spring ahead.

From increases in car crashes both on and off the job to a spike in workplace injuries, safety teams are advised to keep an even more vigilant eye on employee safety over the next week.

Researchers from Michigan State University found that according to data from both the U.S. Department of Labor and Mine Safety and Health Administration, the switch to Daylight Savings Time resulted in 40 minutes less sleep for American workers and a stunning 5.7 percent increase in workplace injuries during the days after DST takes effect.

These injuries result in significant time lost as well. Compared to average, the coming week historically results in nearly 68 percent more days lost due to injury.

Although any fatal or non-fatal injury in the workplace is a travesty that should be avoided, those numbers are staggering.

What are the drivers behind the increased fatigue, besides the obvious loss of an hour? Authors of the report also found that the issue comes from the fact that it is hard for humans to force themselves to fall asleep earlier.

So, what can you do to protect your workers from injury during this ever-so-dangerous time of the year?

For employers and employees, it is important to focus intently on triggers that could cause workplace injuries to occur. Authors Barnes and Wagner have a few suggestions (via The Atlantic):

“For workplaces with hazardous work, perhaps it’d be best to schedule the worst of it for later in the week, once workers have had a chance to adjust. Alternatively, work schedules could be adjusted gradually—so, for example, workers could start 45 minutes later the first two days, then shift their hours back until they are once again aligned with the clocks.”

If these are implausible, organizations could encourage more frequent breaks in the coming week or monitor employees more closely.

Remember, safety is everything and your workers are your most valuable asset.

Protect your workers and Maximize Your Return on Safety by contacting Optimum Safety Management.

Source: Barnes, C. M., & Wagner, D. T. (2009). Changing to Daylight Saving Time Cuts Into Sleep and Increases. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94(5), 1305-1317. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/apl9451317.pdf

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