Safety on the Night Shift

Shift work is hard on human beings. Working nights is associated with shorter lifespans, with increased incidence of heart disease and certain cancers, as well as industrial accidents caused by fatigue.

We know that night shifts have health and safety consequences, but 15 million Americans work evening or night shifts. An additional 3% work rotating shifts, which can be even worse. It’s easier to reverse sleeping schedules and get consistent sleep during the day while working at night, than it is to get enough sleep when sleep and work schedules change frequently.

Night workers are often tired and sleep deprived, and it shows in their accident statistics. Night workers are almost twice as likely to have accidents as those who work the day shift.

Health tips

Night workers should do their best to keep a regular schedule. Wear sunglasses on the drive home to trick your body into thinking it’s getting on toward night. Enjoy breakfast with your family, wind down with a book (not too exciting) or music, make your bedroom dark, and go to to bed for a good day’s sleep.

Make sure your family or housemates know your work schedule so they can help keep the house quiet during your sleep hours. Having regular sleeping and waking times helps other people support your schedule.

When you rise, join your family for dinner or enjoy a balanced meal on your own. Relying on snacks and sweets can give you a roller coaster ride of high and low blood sugar. Protein and fiber from whole grains and fruits and vegetables give you more sustained energy.

Avoid relying on sleeping pills and caffeine to sleep and wake. Talk with your doctor rather than self-medicating if you feel that you really need some help.


Automation can make a big difference in safety on the night shift. Robots can do more of the heavy lifting, more of the high-up work, and more of the repetitive options that can lull and already sleepy workers to sleep.

Human beings make more mistakes and are less cautious about safety procedures when they’re tired. Robots don’t get tired, and they rarely make mistakes. Night work is a good reason to automate your facility more fully.

There are also sensors and even software with predictive ability that can help you identify workers who are getting too tired for safety. Take advantage of new technologies that allow oversight of human workers.

Rexroth machinery has important safety features that cause robots to stop before they make contact with humans. Preventing uncontrolled movements in your machinery is essential — and much easier than it used to be.

When you need service or support with your Rexroth industrial motion control, we should be your first call. Call (479) 422-0390 for immediate assistance.

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