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Springing forward to daylight savings increases work injuries

Georgia residents who have experienced feeling tired in the days after the switch to daylight saving time may be interested to know that they are not alone. Studies show that on average, Americans sleep 40 minutes less the Sunday night following the time change. That can lead to an increased likelihood of having a work-related injury the next day.

A 2009 study found that coal miners had 5.7 percent more on-the-job injuries on the Monday following the switch to daylight saving time than on the average Monday, which averaged 63 injuries reported. The injuries after the time change were more severe as well, causing more missed days of work.

Researchers at Michigan State University speculate that the reason for an increase in severity of workplace accidents after the spring time change may be due to the ineffectiveness of workplace safety measures when employees are tired. They suggested an adjustment to work schedules that puts more hazardous work later in the week.

Many other studies have shown that fatigue can lead to mistakes made on the job, but most of these studies place focus on several hours of sleep deprivation, not the small amount of lost sleep caused by daylight saving time. Car accidents also increase in frequency on the first Monday of daylight saving time, though this is believed to be caused, at least in part, by the change in daylight and darkness after moving ahead an hour, not just fatigue.

These studies seem to suggest that it could be possible to claim negligence on the part of an employer for not exercising proper safety measures on the first Monday following daylight saving time. However, negligence on the part of the employer is not necessary for an employee to file a workers' compensation claim following an accident.

Source: The Atlantic, "Be Careful! Workplace Injuries Spike Following the Switch to Daylight Saving Time", Rebecca J. Rosen, March 10, 2014

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