Watch out for Work Injury Spikes after Daylight Saving Time
“Springing forward” one hour could lead to more work injuries.
Does your company see more OSHA 300 log activity on the days following daylight saving time? If so, it’s not a coincidence. Studies reveal a correlation between the transition to daylight saving time and spikes in workplace injuries. Injury data gathered from 1983 to 2006 by the U.S. Department of Labor revealed that workplace injuries increased by 5.7 percent in the days following daylight saving time.1 Another study revealed that employers across all industries tend to experience a significant uptick in workplace injuries the Monday following daylight saving time.2 Not only did work injuries spike on this day; research also indicated that employees sustained injuries of greater severity. This uptick in workplace injuries resulted in nearly 68 percent more lost workdays.2
Identifying the cause
According to the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, a one-hour sleep loss can cause circadian rhythms to become out of sync.3 Circadian rhythms are the body’s internal clocks. These rhythms can be influenced by physical, mental, environmental, and behavioral changes following a 24-hour pattern known as the sleep-wake cycle.3 For a working adult, the sleep-wake cycle could consist of 16 hours of wakefulness and eight hours of sleep time.
One major change during daylight saving time that can affect the body’s circadian rhythms is exposure to light and dark. If the body is exposed to daylight at a time in which it is normally exposed to darkness, it could signal the brain to release the sleep hormone melatonin. But the brain might produce melatonin at a time when a person needs to be alert, such as during a work shift.
The body’s circadian rhythms must undergo an adjustment period. It’s during this adjustment period that a person could be more susceptible to drowsiness, which could result in mental errors, shorter focus, or impulsive decision-making. Consequently, work injuries could ensue.
Adjusting to daylight saving time
The sooner employees can recalibrate their circadian rhythms, the easier they can transition to the time change. So, how long does it take to readjust the body’s circadian rhythms following a time shift?
“It takes about a week for circadian realignment to occur each time someone shifts his/her sleep-wake cycle,” responded Maja Jurisic, MD, Concentra vice president and medical director of strategic accounts. “During the process of realignment, one’s sense of well-being, one’s mood, and performance efficiency are all negatively affected.”
According to Jurisic, various factors can influence the adjustment period. Age can be a primary factor.4 Because the body’s timing and rhythms can decline with age, the adjustment might be more difficult for an older person.
“Age 40 seems to be a threshold age; after which, it takes even longer to make adjustments in circadian rhythms,” explained Jurisic.
Other factors that affect the body’s adjustment period can include body temperature, lifestyle, and the presence of pre-existing chronic diseases.
Workplace injury prevention measures
Because daylight saving time occurs at a certain time each year, both employers and employees can take proactive steps to avoid the adverse effects of daylight saving time. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, one of the most effective measures employees can take is to adjust their bedtime.5 Employees should adjust their bedtime before and after the time shift with a goal of at least seven hours of sleep. Reaching this goal can be more attainable by gradually adjusting bedtime by 15-20 minutes before and after the start of daylight saving time. Employees who work late shifts should try to maintain their regular schedule, including mealtimes, during the time shift.
Occupational safety interventions employers can implement may include:
- Arranging for employees to perform the most difficult work early in the work shift.
- Encouraging employees who work weekend shifts to take naps before arriving at work.
One workplace health concept that is garnering attention is the designated nap area. While it might be hard for some company leaders to wrap their minds around the idea of authorizing employees to catnap at work, research has revealed its benefits along with the negative effects of having sleep-deprived employees on the clock.6
“Opportunities to restore energy and catch up on sleep can increase productivity,” said Jurisic. “Sleep deprivation can cause mood swings, anxiety, and poor collaboration at work.”
Spring into action before workplace injury cases rise
As daylight saving time requires most of the nation to reset their clocks, it can also serve as a call to action for companies to develop or review their injury intervention strategy. A workplace injury prevention program offers a tactical solution to reducing workplace injury incidences and helps to mitigate the increasingly high expense of workers’ compensation.
Concentra® offers a wide range of occupational injury prevention solutions designed to help combat the effects of daylight saving time, workplace fatigue, shift work, and other factors that potentially increase workplace injury risks. Through the expertise of occupational health specialists such as athletic trainers and physical therapists, employers can partner with Concentra to arrange a variety of injury prevention programs, which can include industrial ergonomics, early musculoskeletal intervention programming, and new employee readiness classes. And some preventive health services can be performed at a company's worksite for greater convenience and care access.
Learn more about Concentra’s injury prevention services or connect with a Concentra injury prevention expert to discuss service options.
- Barnes, C. M., and Wagner, D. T. (2009). Changing to Daylight Saving Time Cuts into Sleep and Increases Workplace Injuries. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94(5), 1305–1317.
- American Psychological Association. (n.d.).Changing to Daylight Saving Time Cuts into Sleep and Increases Workplace Injuries.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Circadian Rhythms. National Institute of General Medical Sciences.
- Pacheco, D. (2023, February 16). How Circadian Rhythms Change as We Age. Sleep Foundation.
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2023, February 14). Daylight Saving Time. Sleep Education.
- Newsom, R. (2023, February 23). The Link Between Sleep and Job Performance. Sleep Foundation.