Rosengren Law Office, LLC

Shift work threatens health and safety of health care workers

Health care workers make up a significant percentage of the millions of shift workers nationwide, including Minnesota. However, researchers say that working through the night and sleeping in the daytime adversely affect the health of these workers. Scientists have even suggested that shift work can be seen as a carcinogen.

Each person has an internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm, which tells the body when to be active, when to sleep and when to eat. It naturally wants the body to become inactive when it is dark, but shift work requires the opposite. The circadian rhythm also regulates many of the body's physiological processes, and disrupting the rhythm has multiple adverse effects on the lives of shift workers.

Tests on laboratory mice have shown behavioral and physiological changes like slower thinking and reaction, impulsiveness, and even weight gain when the circadian rhythm is disrupted. Shift work is also known to cause fatigue, and along with the slower reaction times and limited concentration abilities, shift workers are more prone to make mistakes. In many cases, health care workers on extended periods of working night shift threaten not only their own safety but also the safety of co-workers and hospital patients.

Fortunately, the Minnesota workers' compensation insurance program has the backs of health care workers and others who suffer work-related injuries. Victims can file benefits claims to cover medical expenses and lost wages. Some injured workers choose to utilize the skills of an experienced workers' compensation attorney to navigate the benefits claims process for them while they work on recovering and getting back to work.

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