Plain Language About Shiftwork
Types of Work Schedules
There are hundreds of different shiftwork schedules. However, it is
difficult to accurately count the many shiftwork schedules being used.
No thorough records are kept by the federal government, trade orga-
nizations, or labor unions. Different schedules might be used by the
same occupation, the same industry, or even the same workplace.
The most common shift schedule probably is five days on a single
shift followed by two days off. If this is a rotating shift schedule, the
worker will change to a new shift after the days off. Depending on
the job, it is even possible to work 7, 10, or 14 days in a row. Off-
shore oil rig workers, for example, might work two weeks out on the
rig followed by two weeks off at home.
Since so many different schedules exist, researchers have thought of
ways to measure different features of the schedules. These features
are used to study how work schedules might affect safety, health, or
productivity. The features are listed in Table 1 with explanations
Work Schedule Features
We already have mentioned the time of the shift and whether shifts
are permanent (fixed) or rotating. It also is important to consider:
How long a shift might be.
How many shifts are worked before a rest day.
How many rest days are on weekends.
Whether there is overtime.
How much rest is taken between shifts.
How much rest is taken during the shift.
Whether the work schedule is regular and predictable.