Construction – Construction and Ergonomics
Circadian rhythm refers to Mental, Physical and behavioral changes that work in a twenty-four-hour cycle (Blume, Garbazza, & Spitschan, 2019). It acts like a body’s internal clock system. The most potent signal of a circadian system is that it follows light and darkness; during the day, the body will stay awake, and at night, it feels tired and sleepy (Blume, Garbazza, & Spitschan, 2019). Shift work refers to working hours for a group of employees that exceed the conventional working hours. The circadian rhythm is mainly affected by night shifts. When people work at night, the natural rhythm is turned on its head because instead of sleeping, they have to stay awake. When a person is exposed to night shifts, they must make efforts to get quality sleep because failure to they will end up with “shift work sleep disorder (Caldwell, Caldwell, Thompson, & Lieberman, 2019).” Employers have a legal duty to access the risks of shift work on their employees because it has significant impacts on their health and safety. They should also provide designs of shift schedules and work environments and measures to reduce the negative impact of shiftwork and reduce poor performance, accidents and tiredness. The paper will discuss the need for circadian rhythm and night shift working to be focused on health safety and the environment in the construction industry.
Shift work affects the health and safety of the employees; thus, employers must ensure safety for both employees and the public. There are risks associated with employees working outside daytime hours, especially those working at night. Some circadian rhythm effects include fatigue, disruption of the internal body clock, sleeping difficulties, social and domestic problems, reliance on stimulants, and disturbed appetite and digestion (Banks, Jackson, & Van Dongen, 2017). The effects of night shifts affect employees’ overall performance, increase the likelihood of errors and accidents, and negatively affect employees’ health. Some of the most notable human failures occurred at environments working “round the clock.” For example, the Exxon Valdez accident, the Bhopal tragedy, and the nuclear disasters at Three-mile island and Chernobyl operated on twenty-four systems (Mariana, Sahroni, & Gustiyana, 2018, March).
Environments working on twenty-four hours systems expose employees to significant health effects. For instance, the normal circadian rhythm and the psychophysiological functions of the body are disrupted, including the sleep and wake cycle. This is risky, especially for employees working in the construction industry. Such workers do heavy jobs and need enough time for their bodies to rest. If workers do not get enough time to rest, they suffer from fatigue associated with a lot of accidents in the construction industry. Some of the accidents involving fatigue include the Chernobyl accident resulting from fatigue and human error communication. Also, the Mile Island operator failed to recognize the loss of coolants due to long working hours (Mariana, Sahroni, & Gustiyana, 2018, March). Fatigue exposes workers to physical and cognitive physiological effects. Cognitive skills such as recognition and decision-making skills, motor skills, communication, and social skills are highly affected (Rudin-Brown, Harris, & Rosberg, 2019). Long-term exposure to fatigue can result in chronic ill health effects such as cardiovascular problems, including hypertension, coronary heart disease, and gastrointestinal such as chronic gastritis and peptic ulcers. Also, fatigue exposes workers to minor illnesses such as gastroenteritis, flu, and cold.
Also, night shift working can exaggerate existing health problems such as diabetes, psychiatric illness, and asthma (Kotera, Green, & Sheffield, 2020). Such conditions are risky for people in the construction industry; thus, employers must address significant solutions to ensure safety for their workers. Also, some health conditions require individuals to take specific drugs mostly at night before the rest, which may interfere with their standard functioning; thus, night shifts may not be friendly to them. Moreover, work shifts some items interfere with the everyday social and happy domestic life, which is very important for an individual’s health and wellbeing. Sometimes changing as per shifts and adapting to night shifts may bring conflicts to the family due to misunderstandings. Unusual working schedules affect quality time spent either family and friends, and a person can easily suffer from stress. Also, a worker who experiences conflicts from domestic life feels isolated, depressed, and moody situations which can affect their health and performance at work. Consequent implications for health might result; thus, at times, workers may not perform effectively as a construction industry requires healthy, fit workers (Kotera, Green, & Sheffield, 2020).
Moreover, night shift workers are vulnerable to sleeping while at work. Poor concentration might result in accidents at the place of work or even in the future because of errors that occurred at the time of construction. Every project in a construction industry is unique and individualized; thus, risks can appear at any stage of the construction process if an inexperienced individual interferes with the normal process. Workers in construction industries must be healthy fit and put a lot of concentration on their workers to avoid errors. Also, men have a high level of fatty acids, which circulate in their bodies after meals; therefore, men who work at night shift are exposed to diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic disorders (Khan, Duan, Yao, & Hou, 2018). Considering that a high percentage of people working in construction industries are men, employers must find ways to reduce the risks and create a healthy, safe environment.
However, in construction industries, shifts might result in insufficient workers. Hiring unskilled labor to compensate for night shifts results in construction defects that further result in long-term claims such as inappropriate design, workmanship, and materials used for construction. Also, poorly managed hot work activities in wood-framed construction might result in fire outbreaks and costly losses. Any small hiccup on construction, design or outside factors can significantly affect the construction process.
However, employers can establish ways to mitigate risks associated with night shifts and Circadian rhythm. For instance, employers can seek the commitment of the management team to control the risks of shift work. Contractors in the construction industry need to make sure both the management and workers are included in the night shift plans for any project. Employers should develop clear procedures and policies to manage night shifts throughout the project to mitigate risks of shift working (Garde et al., 2020). Also, contractors should identify individuals responsible for shifts in the projects. Individuals should be appointed to manage the projects at night. Skilled personnel should be balanced to work at night and some for the night shifts to reduce errors in design and construction. Also, contractors should broaden employees’ knowledge of night shift working and familiarize themselves with health and safety legislation procedures (Garde et al., 2020). Ensuring adequate knowledge on health and safety to the employees helps to improve participation and adoption to shift changes. Besides, the management should access the health risks associated with Circadian rhythm and change in shifts as part of the organization’s health and safety techniques to improve employees’ health (Garde et al., 2020). For instance, longer working hours increase fatigue and the risk of ill health; thus, shift time should be reduced to manageable hours. Moreover, reducing circadian misalignment helps to reduce fatigue, sleeplessness, impaired performance, and health and safety problems. Phase-shifting with the circadian clock will ensure people have enough rest and sleep, thus importing participation and performance in construction sites.
Also, the construction manager should take time to identify hidden risks and costs of ineffective schedules, procedures, and policies. Also, workers at the construction sites should be educated on ways to improve their health and safety, performance, and quality of life while working night shifts (Kervezee, Kosmadopoulos, & Boivin, 2020). This will help to improve their quality of life and reduce the risk of reduced lifespan. Also, most night shifts at construction sites occur due to delayed schedules and failure to meet deadlines thus;, contractors must ensure they meet their deadlines to avoid working on night shifts.
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