Industrial Ergonomics - Essay Example

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This paper “Industrial Ergonomics” seeks to discuss shift work and key issues that should be taken into account in the development and design of a shift work schedule. Shift work is one of the work place practices that has serious implications on various aspects of employee’s well being. …
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Industrial Ergonomics
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Industrial ergonomics Industrial Ergonomics This paper seeks to discuss shift work and key issues that should be taken into account in the development and design of a shift work schedule. Shift work is one of the work place practices that has serious implications on various aspects of employee’s wellbeing. Negative effects of shift work can be heightened by increasing age of employees and increased amount of shift work for many years. Studies show that there is no shift system that is perfect, but the ability of employees to choose their preferred shift system increases their adaptability to shift work. Therefore, persons dealing with the designing of a shift work schedule should take into consideration the period worked on a shift, the length of each shift, and the shift pattern.
Shift work schedule is a practice that occurs in work places that run for 24 hours a day and by extension, 7 days a week so as to keep the operations within an organization running. Any work done after the normal daylight hour is referred to as shift work. Different organizations use different approaches to shift work, but it is essential to note that each shift work has various challenges. Under normal circumstances, employees work for 40 hours in a week, 8 hours in a day from Monday to Friday (Westfall, 1998).
In a typical shift work schedule, workers may be scheduled to work for 8 hours in a day comprised of three 8 hour shifts. In another shift work schedule, workers may be subject to work for twelve hours for 4 days, and then 4 off days. Experts point out that shift work schedules, which allow employees to work on the same shift for a prolonged period, are healthy and effective in enhancing employee’s lifestyle and social life. Any attempt to change the shift schedule disrupts employees’ life patterns (Brain, 2001).
Poorly planned shift schedules have contributed immensely in reduced productivity and increased medical complications at work places. The human body is controlled by a circadian cycle, which is a natural clock that plays a role in maintaining complex body functions throughout the day. Different physiological body functions change depending on specific times of the day creating what is known as circadian rhythms. Therefore, circadian rhythms change after every 24 hours by prevailing environmental cues. Naturally, the human body is designed to remain active during the day and the rest through sleep during the night. The reverse is contrary to the circadian cycle, and it is the cause of sleep related problems faced by night shifters (Brain, 2001).
To curb negative effects associated with shift work, shift schedules should take into account several issues. To avoid consecutive night shifts, night shifts should be accompanied by a sufficient period of rest, creating short night shifts, making changes that will allow employees to adapt as quickly as possible and avoiding morning shifts that start too early. In addition, designing of shift schedules should be done with consultation from employees, and they should be gender sensitive since males and females play different roles within families (Westfall, 1998).
Brain, C. (2001). Advanced Subsidiary Psychology: Approaches and Methods. London: Nelson Thornes
Westfall, P. (1998). Shiftwork Safety and Performance: A Manual for Managers and Trainers. Newjersy: Lewis Publishing Read More
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