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UIC: Research Shows Long Work Shifts, Irregular Schedules Contribute to Mining Injuries

Numerous studies have reported on the association between long work shifts and an increased risk of getting injured on the job. Fatigue, fewer breaks and psychomotor impairments resulting from long hours are believed to play a major role in the increased risk of injury for people who work shifts longer than 9 hours.

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago examined how and why long work shifts increase the risk of injury among miners of all kinds. They found that injured miners who worked shifts longer than 9 hours tended to have irregular schedules or less than two years on the job. They also found that miners were more likely to be killed or involved in incidents affecting two or more workers when working 9 hours or more on a shift.

Researchers have reported their findings in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

“While the mining industry has seen some improvements in injury rates among workers in recent decades, its workers tend to work longer hours than the average worker. Because studies on how longer shifts impact mining injuries are inconclusive, we thought it was important to take a closer look at this,” said Dr. Lee Friedman, associate professor in the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and lead author on the paper.

Dr. Friedman said that miners often work 47 or 48 hours per week, clocking multiple 10- to 12-hour shifts. This is above the national average for workers, which is about 38 hours per week.

Dr. Friedman and his colleagues examined data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration “Part 50” reports, from 1983 through 2015.   The researchers found that injuries occurring among long-shift miners increased three-fold in this period.

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