Workplace accidents increase after daylight saving time change

Earlier this week, Pennsylvania and the rest of the country set their clocks ahead one hour in observance of daylight saving time. The spring tradition continues to make people lose one hour of sleep so that there is more daylight during the spring and summer. While many people have become used to the time change, their bodies haven’t and reports have shown that the Monday after daylight saving time is one of the most dangerous days of the year.

Does losing one hour of sleep really make this week more dangerous? Reports indicate that until peoples’ bodies are used to the time adjustment, they are more likely to be involved in a workplace accident. People are also more likely to be in a car accident this week because they are doing their regular work routines one hour earlier than normal.

Researchers have studied the consequences of daylight saving time and found that many people struggle with working one hour earlier than they are used to. Because of the time change, people lose one hour of sleep, making them drowsy and not as well-rested as they should be when performing certain job duties.

Drowsiness and increased sleepiness puts workers at a higher risk of being injured in a workplace accident. While drowsy workers are always at risk to be injured, a study found that workplace accidents significantly increased on the Monday after daylight saving time.

In addition to the increased risk of being in a workplace accident this week, car accidents are reportedly 8.6 percent more common on the Monday after daylight saving time. This can be very dangerous for workers who are required to drive for their job, including truck and delivery drivers and sales staff.

It is important for workers and their employers to be aware of the increased safety risks the day and week after switching to daylight saving time. Employers should take steps to reduce the risks of workplace accidents and injuries and employers may need to start addressing the safety concerns associated with drowsy and sleepy workers to prevent serious and fatal accidents from happening during the daylight saving time switch.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Change to daylight saving time takes biggest health toll today,” Karen Kaplan, March 11, 2013