Shift work: How to manage shift handover safely
By Joanna Weekes
As mentioned in Wednesday’s OH&S Bulletin, shift work can have a negative impact on the health of shift workers. If you use shift work to manage your business operations, there are certain health and safety risks you should be aware of.
Shift work can induce fatigue due to the nature of working long and late hours, which can have a dramatic effect on a worker’s concentration and response times. For example, if a worker is on night shift or constantly moving between day and night shift, or if there are inadequate work breaks in a long shift.
Fatigued workers are less alert and are more likely to make errors and ill-judged decisions,therefore being at higher risk of being involved in incidents both at work and in transit to or from work – this can endanger both the shift worker and others.
Why shift handover is so important
Workers are at their least competent and watchful at the end of a shift.
Workers at the end of a long shift who are responsible for part of a worksite will commonly:
- leave the workplace in an untidy and dangerous way;
- not hand over properly to the incoming shift worker ;
- neglect to properly secure a safety process; and
- fail to identify risks associated with handover to the next shift worker.
It is a good idea to implement the use of tools like logbooks or handover reports that can help workers communicate effectively during handover.
Next week, the OH&S Bulletin will provide a checklist to help to you to create shift handover procedures for your workers.
From the experts behind the Health & Safety Handbook, the Bulletin brings you the latest work health and safety news, legal updates, case law and practical advice straight to your inbox every week.