chapter  32
10 Pages

Shiftwork

The ergonomic problem with regard to shiftwork is that of enabling the individual to work at abnor-

mal hours, an activity which runs both counter to his or her own biology (Homo sapiens is a diurnal

species) and counter to the surrounding society which is structured to protect the sleep of day

workers, but not that of night workers, and expects evenings and weekends to be free for social, reli-

gious, athletic, and cultural events. Moreover, shiftwork is not simply restricted to a very small group

of people who can be carefully selected or self-selected to experience minimal problems. Neither is it

restricted to the youngest and fittest of workers who can bid their way out of abnormal hours when

they advance into their middle age. Employment trends, particularly in the manufacturing sector, now

dictate that the “bidding out of shiftwork by seniority” option often no longer applies. For many

middle-aged and late middle-aged workers the only option is between shiftwork and no work.

Thus, approximately one fifth of all employees are engaged in some form of work that requires

their presence outside of the “standard” 7 am to 6 pm working day on a regular basis, and can

thus be regarded as “shiftworkers.”