Researchers say longer hours do not lead to increased productivity

With employees having constant access to work via their phones, more workers report experiencing burnout, a job-related stress condition that often stems from the feeling that work doesn’t end at 5 p.m., according to

Pressure to work extended hours also exists among shift workers in construction, health care, emergency response and other industries. A Gallup survey places the average American workweek at 47 hours per week, with nearly 40% of respondents reporting they work 50 hours per week.

However, researchers say longer workweeks and extended shifts do not increase productivity. People who work longer hours become more prone to fatigue, which decreases productivity and increases the risk of injury, according to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration report, “Long Work Hours, Extended or Irregular Shifts, and Worker Fatigue.”

Data from the OSHA report shows:

  • Employees working longer hours aren’t working safer. Working more than 12 hours per day is associated with a 37% increased risk of injury.
  • Fatigue doesn’t end when workers clock out. A survey of 2,737 medical residents found every scheduled extended shift in a month increased the risk of a car accident on the drive home by 16.2%.
  • Irregular and evening shifts can be just as dangerous for workplace safety.
  • Lack of productivity resulting from fatigue costs employers an estimated $136.4 billion annually.

Long workdays have been built into U.S. culture; many Americans do not use their vacation days, and salaried and hourly employees continue to work overtime. However, changes in that culture may be emerging as younger workers choose jobs that allow a better work-life balance.

To help reduce fatigue in the workplace, OSHA recommends monitoring shift schedules to see who may be working extended hours; scheduling frequent breaks during the workday; and providing educational training regarding the hazards of fatigue.

Additionally, in the construction industry, artificial intelligence is helping to monitor spikes in overtime, which indicate the potential for increased risk in fatigue-related injuries.

Date : Oct. 03, 2019


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