Many people felt the impact of losing an hour of sleep last weekend when we set our clocks ahead for spring. But according to research cited in an article of The Atlantic, more people than usual may have felt the impact in a way that landed them in the hospital.
According to a 2009 study of coal miners, both the frequency and severity of injuries increased in the wake of the spring daylight saving shift. In that study, workers slept 40 fewer minutes, experienced 5.7 percent more accidents, and lost 67.6 percent more work days to injuries in the aftermath of the spring time change. The article in The Atlantic also notes that the spring daylight saving shift has also been linked to an uptick in traffic accidents.
While we've already likely experienced the worst of the spring daylight saving change, workers should remain aware of the effects their sleep schedule may have on attentiveness at work– particularly workers in heavy industry jobs where the risk of injury is already high. To avoid injury, people who feel particularly affected by the time shift could make an effort to go to sleep earlier each night until they adjust to the new schedule.
One interesting finding of the coal miner study was that the fall time change doesn't have much bearing on sleep schedules. Workers gain only an extra 12 minutes of sleep when clocks roll back.
While this study was limited to the effects of daylight saving time on worker injury, it also illustrates the general effect that sleep deprivation can have on the risk of injury to workers at any time of year. In general, the more fatigued you are on the job, the greater your risk of injury, particularly if you already work in a high-risk industry. Additionally, if you were forced to work long hours without a break, your employer may bear some responsibility for any accident that can be linked to fatigue. To learn more about your options in such a situation, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.