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The impact of daylight saving time on workplace injuries

Daylight saving time began in the United States on March 8, and many South Carolina residents may have been a little sluggish the following morning due to enjoying one less hour in bed. While most people see the time change as a minor inconvenience, it can be a serious issue for workers in hazardous occupations.

Figures from government agencies including the U.S. Department of Labor show that the number of workplace injuries increases significantly on the Monday after clocks are moved forward. The data shows that an average loss of 40 minutes of sleep results in a 68 percent increase in workdays lost to injury and a 5.7 percent increase in accidents that result in injuries. These numbers are based on accident and injury statistics compiled between 1983 and 2006.

There are a number of steps that employers could take to reduce the risk. Workers generally take a few days to adjust to the time change, and rescheduling dangerous tasks to later in the following week would be a prudent preventative measure. Employers could also consider adjusting schedules so that employees can arrive at work an hour or so later on the first day of daylight saving time.

The South Carolina workers' compensation program does not consider blame when assessing a claim, and an injured worker would not be denied benefits if the accident was caused by fatigue. However, the claims procedure can be confusing, and some claims are denied due to minor errors. An attorney with experience in this area can assist an injured worker at this stage to ensure that the claim seeks all of the benefits that are available. The attorney can also provide representation at subsequent hearings should the claim be disputed.

Source: Society for Human Resource Management, "Workplace Injuries Spike After Daylight Saving Time Change", Roy Maurer, March 6, 2015

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