Assessing the health of your night-time workforce
Under the Working Time Regulations, night workers must be provided with a free health assessment at regular intervals.
The purpose of a night worker health assessment is to determine whether a worker is fit to undertake the night work to which he/she has been assigned. Also, it is to determine whether the work will have an effect upon the employee’s health.
Night time is defined as the period between 11.00pm and 6.00am and a night worker is defined as someone who regularly works at least 3 hours of daily working time during 11.00pm and 6.00am. The medical assessment seeks to establish whether the following health problems are present and if so, to what degree:
- Heart and circulatory disorders
- Stomach or intestinal disorders
- Medical conditions affecting sleep
- Chronic chest disorders
- Other medical conditions requiring regular medication on a strict timetable.
Why it’s important to monitor your night workers’ health
Long-term night shift work has been linked to a number of health problems, including heart disease, ulcers, metabolic problems, obesity and certain cancers. A lack of sleep can alter the metabolism and the appetite and encourages irregular eating habits which can raise the risk of metabolic problems. Working night shifts disrupts the body’s circadian rhythms, and this can disrupt normal behaviour cycles and lead to depression and stress.