Can working longer shifts or rotating shifts age your brain? A recent study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine, "Chronic Effects of Shift Work on Cognition:Findings from the VISAT Longitudinal Study," examined the “chronicity and reversibility” of the effects of shiftwork on cognition. Researchers found that irregular shiftwork can result in cognitive impairment equal to 6.5 years of aging for a worker’s brain.
While cognitive loss is a focal point of the study, as a safety professional, I see the research as an opportunity to discuss and highlight the immediate safety issues related to workers and society associated with shiftwork. On an industry-wide level, managers need to take steps to understand the effects of shiftwork on their employees and actively oversee their scheduling and culture in order to recognize the unique safety issues that could disrupt a company’s efficiency, safety and overall health.
Read more on shift work safety on EHS Today.