What Is Shift Work

There is no proper definition on shift work. But then it usually means a work or an activity planned beyond standard daytime hours that includes handing over duty from one individual or team to another. In other words, shift work is a design model of work where one employee relieves and replaces another on the same job within a 24 hour period. Hence the term shift work is often heard at companies that operate 24/7 or 24X7.

Couple of examples for shift work is working during the afternoon, night or in weekends, normally with certain designed work periods of 12 hours or at times need to stretch for extra hour depending on work demands, often associated with compressing the working week, rotation hours of work, fixed shifts, split shift where employees are given the liberty to divide their work hours into two separate parts with several hours break in between, working overtime; standby or on call jobs.

In the past, shift work was traditionally linked with industries like essential public services like hospitals, the police force, fire brigade and other utilities. Also other practical segments such as transportation, chemical, mining and other processes and production industries apply shift work. And since of late, shift work is heard is petrol bunks, supermarkets and call centers. This trend has become popular because of changes in society sustained by workers willing to operate in shift works. However there are plenty undefined reasons for this popularity, such as the recent shift towards a 24 –hour culture, need of employment choice or a preference for compensatory factors such as flextime working resulting in better payouts or time off in lieu. Students and house wives are the people most benefited from this shift work.

Nevertheless according to human biology, humans are proved to discharge best out of them as their nature is to sleep during night and work during day. We go after this inborn pattern because of an internal body clock, located in the brain which is positioned in the brain. This clock sets the daily cycle of biological activities for instance chemical and hormone release that power body activity. Just to illustrate, our heart rate and body temperature are on the higher side during the day. During night they are condensed and hence we are prone to fall asleep. Such a daily cycle is termed as “Circadian rhythm”. It is important to recognize that a planned and methodical approach to assess and manage the risks of shift work can definitely result in employees’ health and safety. Plummeting the issues associated with shift work will lead to financial benefit to business and in general to society as well.