Perhaps not surprisingly, studies show that third shift employees experience more accidents and injuries while on the job. That is because third shift work hours tend to disrupt the body's regular schedule, known as our circadian rhythm, which leads to increased stress and fatigue along with a reduced level of alertness.
Many third shift employees are also less experienced, since those with more seniority and/or experience oftentimes choose to work the day shift. Since much of parking area sweeping — as well as many other pavement maintenance operations — involves night work, here are some ideas to keep your sweeper operators safe.
Since studies have shown that caffeine helps prevent nighttime accidents on the job, as well as improves performance among shift workers, you may want to provide free coffee at the start of your night shift. What your employees eat is also a factor in energy level and wakefulness. Since many third shift employees tend toward fast food or junk food, both of which are not optimal, you may find it helpful to make healthy snacks available when your employees come on shift.
Only an estimated 5% of the current workforce has two jobs, but the percentage of night shift sweeper operators working two jobs is probably well above that figure. Operating a sweeper is a relatively low-wage activity and, with nearly 8 million jobs currently going unfilled, there is a powerful incentive to take on work for a few hours during the daytime. To counter this you may want to preclude your night shift workers from taking on a second job and/or limit the duration or type of extra work they are eligible to perform.
Although all pavement contractors should have a safety plan for all shifts worked, having one for night shift workers is vital. This should include education about the importance of sleep, especially. Also emphasize the proper wearing of correct PPE gear, since that adds a margin of safety. Since the combination of late nights and empty commercial property also brings out a lower class of individuals on-site, also be sure to discuss in detail what to do when accosted by homeless people or similar. These types of preventive steps can pay huge dividends to both your team members and their families.