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Current scientific findings on night and shift work: social distribution, well-being and recovery

Project number: F 2551 Institution: Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) Status: Ongoing Project Planned end: 2025-08-31


The organization and design of working hours in night and shift work poses special challenges regarding health and social aspects. Reliable evidence from ergonomics indicates that these working time arrangements are associated with an increased risk for physical and mental illnesses for employees, e.g., metabolic diseases, sleep disorders or exhaustion. Especially in shift work, a lack of recovery is a central issue related to work demands and strain, as well as impaired well-being. Thus, the project aims to systematically summarise existing knowledge regarding different night and shift work arrangements and their relation to recovery.

A systematic literature review will summarise the previous findings. It will be supplemented by secondary data analyses of the BAuA-Working Time Survey. The review (or if possible meta-analysis) and data analyses results will be used to update and supplement previous evidence from ergonomics regarding a recovery-friendly design of night and shift work. Besides, the findings will be transferred into practice-oriented guidelines. In addition, the project aims at developing a practical tool ("recovery traffic light") facilitating the comparison of different shift work systems and the derivation of action recommendations.

The results from the project will contribute to reliable findings on the relationships between different night and shift work arrangements with recovery on the one hand and various indicators of mental and physical health on the other hand. Scientific and practice-oriented publications will make the findings available to the (specialist) public. In addition, the findings will be shared with the scientific community, the occupational safety and health community, and occupational practitioners at relevant events.


Unit 1.1 "Working Time and Flexibilisation"

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