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NIOSH Safety and Health Topic:

Work Schedules: Shift Work and Long Work Hours

According to 2001 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 15 million Americans work evening shift, night shift, rotating shifts, or other employer arranged irregular schedules. The International Labour Office in 2003 reports that working hours in the United States exceed Japan and most of western Europe. Both shift work and long work hours have been associated with health and safety risks. This page provides links to NIOSH publications and other resources that address demanding work schedules.


NIOSHTIC-2 is a searchable bibliographic database of occupational safety and health publications, documents, grant reports, and journal articles supported in whole or in part by NIOSH.

NIOSHTIC-2 search results on work schedules

NIOSH Publications

Overtime and Extended Work Shifts: Recent Findings on Illnesses, Injuries and Health Behaviors
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2004-143
Presents a review of the methods and findings from 52 studies that examined the relationship between long work hours and selected health outcomes. Also provides recommendations on issues and priorities to consider in future research.

Medical Interns’ Risk for Car Crashes Linked With Extended Shifts in NIOSH-Funded Study—NIOSH Update
Information on this study can be found in the following journal articles in the New England Journal of Medicine.:

    Barger LK, Cade BE, Ayas NT, Cronin JW, Rosner B, Speizer FE, Czeisler CA. 2005. Extended Work Shifts and the Risk of Motor Vehicle Crashes among Interns. N Engl J Med 352:125-134.

    Landrigan CP, Rothschild JM, Cronin JW, Kaushal R, Burdick E, Katz JT, Lilly CM, Stone PH, Lockley SW, Bates DW, Czeisler CA. 2004. Effect of reducing interns' work hours on serious medical errors in intensive care units. N Engl J Med 351:1838-1848.

    Lockley SW, Cronin JW, Evans EE, Cade BE, Lee CJ, Landrigan CP, Rothschild JM, Katz JT, Lilly CM, Stone PH, Aeschbach D, Czeisler CA. 2004. Effect of reducing interns' weekly work hours on sleep and attentional failures. N Engl J Med 351:1829-1837.

Work-related Roadway Crashes - Prevention Strategies for Employers
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2004-136

Work-related Roadway Crashes - Who’s at Risk?
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2004-137
Companion fact sheets provide information that employers and others can use for assessing risks for motor vehicle injuries and deaths in their work settings, and for taking effective steps to reduce those risks.

Work-Related Roadway Crashes - Challenges and Opportunities for Prevention
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2003-119
Provides a comprehensive view of issues impacting the prevention of work-related roadway crashes, identifies the groups of workers at greatest risk of traffic crashes, summarizes key issues that contribute to work-related roadway crashes, and recommends preventive measures for employers and other stakeholders.

Plain Language About Shiftwork
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 1997-145
Adobe acrobat icon pdf only 572 KB (47 pages)
Provides basic facts about shiftwork and talks about ways to make shiftwork life easier. The document is an educational document for the general public.


19th International Symposium on Shiftwork and Working Time Health and Well-being in the 24-h Society
External Link:
August 2 - 6, 2009 San Servolo Island, Venezia, Italy.

Past NIOSH-Sponsored Events

Long Working Hours, Safety, And Health: Toward A National Research Agenda
External Link:

April 29 - 30, 2004, University of Maryland, Baltimore, Maryland
Using a multi-disciplinary approach, this conference explored the sociological, economic, and health dimensions of long work hours.

Some Strategies Suggested for Coping with Shift Work

Alertness Management Strategies for Operational Contexts
Caldwell JA, Caldwell JL, Schmidt RM. Sleep Medicine Reviews 2008; 12: 257-273

How to trick Mother Nature into letting you fly around or stay up all night
Revell VL, Eastman CI. Journal of Biological Rhythms 2005; 20:353-365

Intervention factors for promoting adjustment to nightwork and shiftwork
Rosa RR, Bonnet MH, Bootzin RR, et al. Occupational Medicine 1990; 5:391–415.

Plain Language About Shiftwork
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 1997-145
Adobe acrobat icon pdf only 572 KB (47 pages)

Preventive and compensatory measures for shift workers
Knauth P, Hornberger S. Occupational Medicine (Ox) 2003; 53:109-116.

What can the chronobiologist do to help the shift worker?
Monk TH. Journal of Biological Rhythms 2000; 15:86-94.

Some Educational Resources For Workers Available on Other Web Sites

National Sleep Foundation
External Link:

Helping yourself to a good night’s sleep
External Link:

Strategies for shift workers
External Link:

Learn How to Create the Perfect Sleep Environment
External Link:

National Institute of Health, National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute
Your Guide to Healthy Sleep. NIH Publication Number 06-5271. 2006. 60 pages

External Link: http://

Working the night shift: preparation, survival and recovery. Horrocks, N & Pounder, R. 2006. London, Royal College of Physicians. 24 pages
External Link:

Related NIOSH Topics

Flight Crew Research Program at NIOSH

Organization of Work: Measurement Tools for Research and Practice

Stress at Work

NORA Organization of Work Research Priority Area

The goal of the NORA Organization of Work Team is to define and implement a national occupational research agenda for the next decade. Organization of work refers to management and supervisory practices and production processes, and to their influence on the way jobs are designed and performed in the workplace. Organization of work includes the design of work schedules. A NORA Long Work Hours Subteam was formed to address overtime and extended work shifts issues.

Other Resources

CDC: Sleep and Sleep Disorders

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
External Link:

National Institutes for Health, National Center for Sleep Disorders Research
External link

National Sleep Foundation
External link

Sleep Research Society
External link

Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms
External link

Society for Research on Biological Rhythms
External link

Working Time Society
External link

Extramural Research Projects

Search for extramural government funded studies examining work schedules:

Page last updated: January 6, 2009
Page last reviewed: September 22, 2008
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Division of Applied Research and Technology

Work Schedules

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