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Wisconsin worker injuries up the day after daylight savings

A recently-published study about the influence of daylight savings time on workplace injuries and accidents does not isolate Wisconsin. The research gives a national snapshot of how little sleep deprivation is required before job performance and workers' safety are affected.

Workers' compensation claims rise when fatigued employees get hurt on the job. Multiply one instance times the number of workers who lose an hour's sleep for daylight savings time. The study suggests the result is a noticeable increase in employee injuries and subsequent workers' compensation benefits.

Critics of the sleep-work study might wonder how a one hour change in sleep habits could make so much difference in the workplace. After all, time is shifted forward at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday in March -- not on Monday morning when most people go to work. Wouldn't an extra cup of coffee fix the momentary sleepiness?

The study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found many employees still felt effects of the time difference days after the switch. Employees who worked the day following the clock change averaged 40 minutes less sleep than usual. The lack of rest made a difference.

Study authors compared federal labor statistics with data from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. The number and severity of injuries shot up in hazardous workplaces on the Monday after the clock change.

Daylight savings time may be responsible for a 5.7 percent rise in Monday-after injuries plus a 68 percent spike in lost work days.

The researchers concluded that even a one-hour's sleep loss could decrease employee attentiveness and focus. For people in jobs that are not hazardous, sleep deprivation could translate to costly business mistakes rather than personal harm.

In any instance, injured employees have the right to expect workers' compensation benefits for job-related injuries.

Source: zanesvilletimesrecorder.com, "Study shows time change affects worker safety," Jim Evans, March 16, 2013

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