HR Strange But True!
June 02, 2009

Who'd ‘a thunk it? New research says that workplace accidents spike on the Monday after Daylight Savings Time begins. Doesn't more light mean fewer accidents? No, less sleep means more accidents.

A study by Michigan State University industrial and organizational psychology doctoral candidates Christopher Barnes and David Wagner, reported by various sources, says that workplace accidents spike 5.7 percent on the Monday after the Sunday when we set our clocks forward 1 hour from other Mondays throughout the year. They also reported that a University of British Columbia study found an 8 percent increase in accidents on the changeover day.

The reason? It's lack of sleep. Although the researchers say that workers actually lose only 40 minutes of sleep on that night, even that small amount of time is significant, Barnes explained.

He told that studies have shown that lost sleep causes attention levels to drop off, and that impact could be greatest in jobs requiring a high level of attention to detail. So while reportable physical accidents increase, Barnes maintains that it is not unreasonable to think that nonreportable workplace mistakes , such as transposing figures, probably rise as well.

No such spike occurs in the fall when clocks are set back! That's because workers are getting a night giving them extra time to sleep.

The study used data from the “Ame rican Time Use Survey” conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and from the Mine Safety and Health Administration. The study was sponsored by The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, whose members study and apply scientific principles to workplace issues.

The researchers also reported that their findings show that not only do the number of accidents increase, but their severity as well. Unfortunately, the phenomenon may also result in dangerous errors such as a drowsy pharmacist filling a prescription with the wrong drug.

Sources: Newswise and SIOP

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