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Work-related injuries increase day after time changes to DST

It happens every year on the second Sunday in March. People who live in areas that observe Daylight Savings Time "spring forward" and move their clocks ahead by one hour. The Monday that follows is ranked as one of the least rested days of the year. Anyone in North Carolina going to work that day should take heed -- work-related injuries can increase as people struggle with the effects of too little sleep from the night before.

Studies indicate that people who make the switch to Daylight Savings Time lose nearly an hour of sleep when they move the clock forward. This happens because, in many cases, the person is just not ready to sleep when bedtime rolls around an hour earlier than it did the night before. When the work week starts the next day at its regular time, he or she has not been able to sleep as long as usual.

This can have serious ramifications about safety in the workplace. One study found that coal miners who worked the day after the springtime time change suffered almost 6 percent more work-related injuries that day. In addition, the injuries that occurred that day were more serious and resulted in an almost 70 percent longer-than-average absence from work. Fatigue was cited as the reason for the difference.

Traditionally, studies that look at the impact of too-little sleep focus on extreme situations in which sleep is denied for many hours. Researchers are now suggesting that may not give a true picture of the impact that is possible when a brief interruption takes place in one's normal sleep patterns. They say a look at shorter periods of sleep deprivation could be beneficial in understanding its effect on workplace safety.

Regardless of the safety implications, for most people in North Carolina and elsewhere, when the alarm clock goes off on Monday, it's time to get up and get at it. If the statistics hold true, several of them will suffer work-related injuries before the day is over. For those individuals, workers' compensation benefits could provide a way to cover expenses until they can heal sufficiently to return to the job.

Source: The Atlantic, Be Careful! Workplace Injuries Spike Following the Switch to Daylight Saving Time, Rebecca J. Rosen, March 10, 2014

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