The official definition of night work is that which is carried out from 11:00pm until 6:00am the following morning. The current legislation ensures that anyone working during that time is not suffering ill health through the unsociable hours. Health checks for night workers have to be arranged by employers to ensure that the health of their nocturnal workforce is not being impaired. Night work assessment ensures that a work force is healthy and efficient which will lead to greater productivity. However, not all types of employment are included in the guidelines.
Occupations which are Exempt
Work that is deemed to be either vital or seasonal is not included in the health assessment for night work. For instance, employees in the fire brigade or nursing are contracted to provide continuous service which results in working shifts. Agriculture is dependant on the seasons so workers in this industry work irregular hours but not on a permanent basis. Nor does the amount of time it takes workers to get to their jobs count towards the night working hourly allowance. Workers who are ineligible for night work assessments are awarded extra breaks. Night workers can voluntarily opt out of the scheme.
Adverse Effects of Night Work
Many people find they can adapt to night work without too much difficulty but there is a small percentage of workers who feel their health is being harmed. It has long been acknowledged that working nights, particularly if shifts are interspersed with periods of daytime work, can have a detrimental effect. A common complaint is how an employee finds it difficult to sleep during the day and then finds it hard to concentrate during the night shift. This can lead to a loss of efficiency and productivity and also puts safety at risk. Ailments such as depression, nervous anxiety or headaches are widespread. Serious underlying health issues including heart disease can be triggered by the disruption caused by night work. Anyone already suffering from conditions such as diabetes should not apply for night work.
The regulations concerning night work insist that all employers must arrange for their work force to complete a questionnaire regarding the effects of working through the night to establish an employee’s state of health. Further tests are available for workers who appear to be suffering ill health. Details of the assessment test must be stored for two years. The assessment test will determine which employees are not suitable for night shifts and who therefore must be offered an alternative post within the company. Subsequent health checks for night workers must be carried out annually.
Providing a detailed health questionnaire is the first obligation of an employer regarding night work. Seeking advice from a professional health assessment team can help employers find the most relevant material for the compulsory questionnaires. Health Screen have great expertise in identifying those workers who are at risk and can provide further medical checks at their place of work.