Workplace accidents soar after clocks spring forward

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2023 | Workplace Injuries

Daylight Saving Time began in New York at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 11. Losing an hour of sleep might not seem like something to be concerned about, but it can actually be quite dangerous. Fatigue is one of the leading causes of motor vehicle and workplace accidents, which surge in the week following the start of Daylight Saving Time.

Workplace safety study

When researchers from Michigan State University studied the effect that the switch to Daylight Saving Time has on workplace safety, they made some worrying discoveries. They found that workers are 5.7% more likely to be injured in on-the-job accidents in the week after clocks spring forward, and they also noticed that 68% more days are lost due to workplace accident injuries in the days following the time change. The researchers used data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration and U.S. Department of Labor to conduct the study.

Circadian rhythms

Workers with dangerous jobs may try to reduce the risks of being injured in a fatigue-related accident by going to bed an hour earlier on the night before Daylight Saving Time begins, but they are unlikely to fall asleep any sooner. This is because the human body has an internal clock called the circadian rhythm that controls the sleep-wake cycle. Employers can reduce the likelihood of workplace accidents and avoid workers’ compensation claims by not scheduling dangerous tasks in the days following the switch to Daylight Saving Time and watching their workers for signs of drowsiness and fatigue.

A yearly safety challenge

Moving clocks forward an hour in the spring leads to fatigue and makes roads and workplaces more dangerous. The human body has an internal biological clock that cannot be consciously altered, which is why going to bed early rarely leads to falling asleep more quickly. The switch to Daylight Saving Time is a yearly safety challenge for employers, but prudent scheduling and vigilance can reduce accident risks during this dangerous time.