It may seem like everyone works eight-hour days Monday through Friday. However, that is far from true. Many industries in the United States focus on shift work in which employees rotate on 12-hour shifts, 24 hours a day, often seven days a week.
Twelve-hour shifts can be seen in law enforcement, security services, health care, hospitality, restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, transportation services, customer call centers, journalism and media, fire and emergency responder stations, oil and gas production, construction, and other industrial sectors.
There are pros and cons to shift work. One of the greatest disadvantages is worker fatigue, which is related to some workplace accidents and injuries.
Types of 12-Hour Shift Schedules
When workers need to be present at an industrial site or another workplace 24 hours per day, they are often assigned 12-hour shifts. However, that does not mean group A works from 12:00 am to noon and group B works from noon until 11:59 pm. There are many ways companies divide shifts of workers among 12-hour shifts, including:
The DuPont schedule uses a four-week cycle: four-night shifts, three days off, three-day shifts, one day off, three-night shifts, three days off, four-day shifts, seven days off. One of the pros of this schedule is that many employees enjoy having a “vacation” each month. Seven consecutive days off enables workers to travel and decompress without using vacation days. However, working for several weeks with only occasional days off can lead to fatigue. It can also be difficult to adjust to the work schedule after seven days off.
Four On, Four Off (4 x 4)
Employees work four consecutive day or night shifts followed by four consecutive days off. Employees usually rotate between date and night shifts. The advantage of this schedule is that employees have plenty of time to rest and recuperate between their four days on. Also, within an eight-week cycle, employees get three consecutive weekends off. However, this schedule can be frustrating for workers because they do not have set days off each week. This makes planning ahead difficult and can complicate child custody schedules.
The 2-3-2/Pitman Shift Schedule
Within a 14-day period, employees work two days on, two days off, three days on, two days off, two days on, and three days off. This gives workers every other weekend off, and employees know they will never work more than three consecutive days, which allows for plenty of rest and recuperation. However, this type of schedule typically requires workers to switch between day and night shifts. The disrupted sleep schedule can cause fatigue.
General Advantages of 12-Hour Shifts
Longer shifts provide a business with greater continuity. An employee can stay with a project for a longer period of time. It may make it more likely for an entire project or task to be completed by one person or a team instead of changing hands. This can be helpful for continuity as well as quality.
Twelve-hour shifts may allow some companies to hire fewer people, depending on the circumstances. This small staff reduction can be extremely helpful for companies.
Workers on 12-hour shifts do not work fewer hours than those who work eight-hour shifts. However, because their individual shifts are longer, they tend to have more days off during the week. While schedules can be odd, they tend to be relatively consistent.
Once a worker understands their schedule, they can properly address childcare, doctor’s appointments, chores, errands, and other tasks they can complete on their days off. Companies may find that the days off during the week reduce absenteeism because workers can schedule appointments on their days off.
Typical Disadvantages of 12-Hour Shifts
Working for 12 hours straight is difficult. One of the most significant cons of 12-hour shifts is worker fatigue. Workers may have a difficult time remaining alert throughout their shift and working several long shifts in a row can disrupt sleep. By the third or fourth day of 12-hour shifts, a worker may be overly tired and far less productive. In an industrial setting, this can be dangerous.
Overall, with a 12-hour shift, a worker may not get enough sleep each day. After working 12 hours, an individual may still need to run errands, take care of their children, and perform household tasks. Add in a brief period for relaxation, and an adult may get fewer than seven hours of sleep—the minimum amount recommended by the National Sleep Foundation for adults between the ages of 26 and 64.
Another risk is for ergonomic-related injuries. Individuals who work a physically demanding job for 12 hours at a time may face a greater risk of suffering a serious injury or sustaining a work-related medical condition.
Contact Brooker Law After a Workplace Accident
If you were injured by a tired 12-hour-shift worker in Dallas, do not hesitate to contact a Texas personal injury lawyer at Brooker Law. We are highly experienced in handling third-party liability claims following oil, gas, or construction accidents.