The sleep lover’s least favorite day of the year is approaching: Daylight Saving Time (DST).
For someone who gets seven or more hours of sleep a night, losing an hour when it’s time to spring ahead on Sunday, March 12 shouldn’t be the end of the world. But most people already don’t log enough snooze time. For them, the time change can, at the very least, require an extra cup of coffee. In the worst-case scenario, it can make hazardous work like construction even more dangerous.
A 2009 study by researchers at Michigan State University using national mining injury data found that on the Monday following the DST change, the number of injuries increased 5.7 percent, and injuries were more severe. The researchers also found that people slept about 40 minutes less than usual the night before.
According to the CDC, people with heart disease might even be at increased risk of a heart attack during the week following the time change.
Humans deprived of sleep communicate less clearly, are distracted more easily and have slower response times. Bad news for construction sites. Sleep deprivation could also lead to riskier behavior. Ditto.
Employers should talk to workers — especially younger workers, who may have the most trouble adjusting due to later bedtimes — about steps they can take beforehand to offset these effects. And caution them about the possibility of other workers being sleep impaired on the job and on the road.
Starting three or four days before the time change, workers should schedule wake time, bedtime, meals and exercise 15 or 20 minutes earlier each day, and get a full night’s sleep. The better rested a person is going into the time change, the less likely he or she is to be involved in a worksite accident. Avoiding the artificial light from computers, tablets, TVs and cell phones for an hour before bed should make it easier to fall asleep.
Spring is the start of busy season for construction companies. Get an early start on accident prevention by “springing forward” safely.
Kim Slowey is a writer who has been active in the construction industry for 25 years and is licensed as a certified general contractor in Florida. She received her BA in Mass Communications/Journalism from the University of South Florida and has experience in both commercial and residential construction.