Organising shift work in a healthy manner
The organisation of work in night and shift duties presents specific organisational challenges under health and social aspects. Based on scientific studies, it has long been known that these forms of working time may constitute a risk to employees’ health.
Approximately six million people in Germany work in shift systems. Those who work in shifts live against their biological clock, which may cause health risks. This has also been shown in numerous scientific studies.
Only a well organised shift schedule minimises health risks for employees and allows for a smooth process within the company. The schedule should be ergonomic and must be developed pursuant to ergonomic findings, as required by law. This is specified by the German Working Time Act (Arbeitszeitgesetz) for the organisation and flanking of night and shift work. Especially § 6 section 1 Working Time Act is of particular interest, requiring the organisation of night and shift work to be performed in accordance with ergonomic findings.
Based on the present ergonomic findings, the following recommendations for action can be formulated:
These recommendations do not have to be fulfilled all at the same time and implemented in the specified order. The criteria listed above must rather be evaluated individually and adapted to the requirements of the company. However, as a matter of principle, the criteria for reducing health risks must be prioritised.
Further, the following is applicable: