Working at night comes with a host of risks ranging from health problems to an increased potential for injury. Studies have shown that those who work at night are at a much higher risk of work-related accidents, meaning workers’ compensation is often necessary.
By nature, human beings are physiologically designed to be awake during the day and asleep at night. When this pattern is disrupted, it diminishes the quantity and quality of sleep that workers can achieve. This leads to higher levels of fatigue, lower cognitive functioning, and a subsequently increased risk of workplace accidents. Night shift workers tend to be less aware of potential risks and may not take countermeasures to prevent accidents, making injury more likely.
For instance, drivers who operate motor vehicles at night have a much higher risk of an accident while on the job than those who drive during the day. Other night shift workers may not experience as much risk as drivers, but there is still a higher occurrence of work-related injuries for those who work nights over those who work days.
The risks can be reduced by making a permanent transition to an inverted sleep cycle (sleeping during the day rather than at night), but this often isn’t possible given other factors (family life, running errands, rotating shifts, etc.).
Long-Term Health Issues
The disruption to normal sleep and eating cycles, social life, and other important components of human life not only lead an increased incidence of work accidents, but also long-term health issues. Some of the health problems night shift employees may experience include:
- Mental health issues, including anxiety, mood disorders, and depression
- Digestive troubles, gastrointestinal disorders, and constipation
- Peptic ulcers
- Obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes
- Liver and kidney function impairment
- Women’s reproductive health issues
- Cardiovascular disorders
These health problems may be covered by workers’ compensation, though it’s often difficult to link the issue to one’s employment. However, more studies are solidifying the relationship between night shift work and these health risks, making it easier for night workers to receive the compensation they deserve.
Seeking Compensation for Night Shift Injuries
Physical injuries are fairly straightforward when it comes to workers’ compensation, but workers still need to follow the required steps of reporting their injury and seeking prompt medical help. Legal assistance may also be necessary when dealing with the insurance company.
When seeking compensation for health issues related to night work, things can get a little more complicated. Evidence to support workers’ comp claims may be more scarce, and if there is a significant dispute, work records and expert witnesses may be necessary to solidify a worker’s claim.
Further complicating the issue is the possibility of preexisting conditions. An employer may claim a worker’s condition was already present in order to avoid paying out. However, if it can be shown that night shift work exacerbated an existing condition, then a claim is still possible.
In each of these scenarios, the assistance of a workers’ compensation attorney is vital. Hart David Carson LLP provides legal counsel and representation to night shift employees who have been injured while on the job. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact us today.