Does working overtime positively correlate with an increase of accidents/injuries in the workplace? According to RCS (Risk Control Services), studies indicate that employees working overtime were 61% more likely to suffer a work-related injury or illness than employees who did not work overtime.

Longer work days and work weeks were found to correlate with higher injury rates. For example, working at least12 hours a day was associated with a 37% increased risk of injury or illness, while working at least 60 hours a week was associated with a 23% increased risk.

The U.S, studies were based on survey responses from 11,000 Americans to the annual National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. The survey included questions about employment history, work schedules, and sick leave, covering the period between 1987 and 2000. The analysis included a study of over 100,000 job records and over 5,000 workplace injury reports. Over half of these were in jobs with extended working hours or overtime.

The increased risks were not concentrated in jobs traditionally considered to be “high hazard” in nature, either. The authors say their findings backup the theory that long working hours indirectly precipitate workplace accidents by inducing fatigue and stress.

Professor Allard Dembe, Center for Health Policy and Research, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Mass, headed the study which was published in the British Medical Journal.

Even though many companies require overtime to maintain productivity levels and scheduling demands, in many cases overtime hours should be considered a potential risk. This is especially true for jobs where safety is directly tied to reaction time and hand/eye coordination (i.e. manufacturing, assembly, forklift operation). In such positions, the effects of fatigue and stress from long work hours can reduce focus and slow reaction time, sometimes resulting in an injury.

Source: RCS (Risk Management Control)

2 Responses to “Ask WorkSource: Overtime and Risk”

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