By William (BJ) Westner Jr., CPCU, CLU, RHU, FLMI
Claims Consultant, Insurance Associates, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC Company
In just one month, Daylight Savings Time will be upon us again. While this usually brings a certain level of happiness to most because there are more hours of sunlight after work, it also brings an increase in workplace injuries. All contractors could benefit by preparing ahead of time for this change and making necessary changes that can reduce the increased risk of injuries in the period of time immediately following Daylight Savings Time.
One of the most detailed studies ever done on Daylight Savings Time and its consequences on workplace safety was published in a 2009 article in The Journal of Applied Psychology. That study focused on mining from 1983 through 2006. While mining is different than the construction industry, there are many parallels between the two. Mining and construction happen to be two of the most dangerous occupations with high rates of injuries while on the job.
Americans average 40 minutes less sleep following the change to Daylight Savings Time. Obviously this creates problems for contractors and it is easy to imagine why for example an employee is more likely to trip and fall on a jobsite or forget to wear proper eye protection causing an eye injury. While contractors are reasonable to expect that their employees should come to work prepared and well rested to do the job they are paid to do, the reality is that is not always the case. And telling employees to make sure they get the proper amount of sleep is not likely going to protect the contractor from this risk.
The better option for the contractor is to anticipate this ahead of time and plan/schedule accordingly. For most contractors it is likely that by delaying work for an hour or more in the first few days after DST is worth it. This will allow employees to be at least as well rested as they would normally be and allow their bodies to properly adjust to DST. In the end an investment of delaying work for a few days for just an hour or so could mean the difference between an increase in workplace injuries (and potentially higher experience mod) and finishing a job with no injuries.