Research/studies Shift work

Being ‘on-call’ increases worker fatigue, need for recuperation, study finds


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Groningen, Netherlands – The experience of being on-call is a major factor in worker fatigue, increasing the need for shift workers to recuperate, indicates a study from the University of Groningen.

Researchers studied questionnaire results from 169 male workers employed by a gas company. For one week every month, the workers were required to be reachable within 60 minutes to be able to verify potential gas leaks. General health, sleep quality, fatigue, work and social characteristics, and need for recovery – defined as the immediate need to recuperate from work-induced fatigue – were assessed. Study results showed that on-call workers who received a call had the highest need for recovery.

Researchers also found that demanding work, high “work-family interference” and mental health issues play a role, stating in a press release that the need for recovery is heightened for on-call shift workers who experience these issues. Allowing workers to craft their own schedule might help lessen the harmful effects of shift work, they added.

The study was published online June 15 in the journal Ergonomics.