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Organisation of Working Time and Planning of Shift Work in Production

Consultancy and support offers for organisation of working time

Do you want to optimise the organisation of working time and the planning of shift work within your company? if so, have a look at the consultancy and support offers for producing companies developed by the Initiative New Quality of Work (INQA).

In the field of production, companies are increasingly forced to expand their working and operating times in order to reduce their production costs and to be able to make investments. Working time and shift systems tried and tested over many years are adapted or replaced by new ones.

Therefore, human resources planners have to provide solutions for increasingly complex working time schemes with the proviso that they conciliate efficiency considerations and the compliance with statutory provisions. Suitable free support instruments concentrating and processing the present know-how are rare and not spread very much within the companies.

Project offers consultancy and support

As a consequence, the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health assisted in a project, initiated by the INQA network "Initiative Neue Qualität der Arbeit in der Produktion" (Initiative New Quality of Work in production), supporting producing companies in assessing the labour conditions pursuant to § 5 Safety and Health at Work Act, taking into consideration reliable findings from the field of human factors science.

On the project home page, the statutory bases are represented and recommendations and practical guidances for determining tailored working time system solutions are offered. The information provided take into consideration the latest state of the art in terms of technology, occupational healthcare, and hygiene.

The offer includes:

  • practical guidance in the form of a database with more than 40 standard shift schedules assessed from a human factors science point of view,
  • employee questionnaires with automatic analysis feature,
  • checklists for facilitating a shift schedule design that is as free of impairments as possible.

The guidelines guarantee the introduction of working time and shift systems meeting the statutory requirements and preferably not impairing the safety and health of the employees.

Furthermore, the players in the company are provided with the software tool "Arbeitszeiten online bewerten" (evaluating working hours online). The programme identifies the average risk for certain health-related problems (sleep disorders, disorders of the digestive system) and social effects caused by the specific organisation of the working time system. After the initial registration for this tool, the working time data can be updated at any time and the assessment results can be output again.

Protecting workers’ health: step-by-step improvement of shift systems

This way, shift systems can be improved step by step until the risk of impairments is minimised. The tool provides recommendations as to which measures may be taken to reduce the risk. However, it cannot be used for a personalised evaluation of the risk of individual workers.

The psychologist and ergonomist Friedhelm Nachreiner and his team (University of Oldenburg and GAWO e.V.) were commissioned with the performance of the project. The project was supported intensively by an advisory board. This board consisted of experts of the social partners of IG-Metall and METALL NRW, working time experts of the Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI), the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Institute for Applied Ergonomics (ifaa), and the University of Karlsruhe.