Carter Craig, Attorneys at Law

How shift work may affect a person's health

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Virginia shift workers may suffer from sleep disorders that could increase the chance of a workplace accident and may also increase the likelihood of contracting some serious diseases. According to a study, rotating shifts can help mitigate some of these effects as long as the worker works at least four shifts in a row.

Some of the effects of shift work differ according to what kind of schedule an individual is working. For example, waking up earlier than 6:00 a.m. leads to disrupted circadian rhythms and a poorer quality of sleep. Shift workers who sleep in the daytime tend to get fewer than six hours of sleep.

These disruptions to the duration of sleep itself and the quality of sleep can contribute to depression and obesity. The risk of Type II diabetes, strokes and coronary heart disease may all increase with shift work. There have been some studies that associate shift work with an increased risk of prostate, breast and colorectal cancer, and although the link is not definite, the risk may be higher the longer a person does this type of work.

A person who is injured on the job or who becomes ill may be eligible for workers' compensation. Shift workers might struggle to prove a link between shift work and certain conditions to a workers' compensation board, but if they injured on the job for any reason, including a lack of sleep, they may be able to receive benefits. Those who believe their workplace has made them sick might want to speak to an attorney about the situation and how they might document their illness in order to show a link.

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