Workers Health & Safety Centre

Non-standard work hours and training to minimize their effect

Non-standard work hours and training to minimize their effect
Our 24/7 economy demands 24/7 labour. Instead of working 9 to 5, many workers work 5 to 9 to make ends meet. But at what cost?

Non-standard hours of work are not only inconvenient, but a growing number of studies indicate they are harmful to workers’ minds and bodies. Taken all together, studies show non-standard shifts can lead to a host of health issues including digestive disorders, pregnancy complications, heart problems, and even cancer.

Non-standard work hours include shift and night work, week-end work, split shifts, on-call work, compressed work weeks, and extended hours. In Canada, in addition to working excessive hours, as much as 30 per cent of the workforce are now engaged in non-standard hours.

Updated training

To reflect this new reality, the Workers Health & Safety Centre has recently updated our Hours of Work training module. Among many changes, the module features the most current research into the effects of non-standard hours of work, including:
  • two more studies that link long-term, rotating night shift work to higher incidence of breast cancer;
  • another study that found women working rotating night-shifts for long periods have a significantly increased risk of endometrial cancer;
  • research that documented a relationship between men working rotating shifts and prostate cancer; and
  • a simulated study that found 37.5 per cent of workers who drove after a night shift were involved in a near-crash event.

Critical learning objectives

Overall, participants in this program will learn about:
  • the evolution of the eight-hour day;
  • different types of work schedules and who most often works them;
  • new or milestone studies that link non-standard work to health conditions, in addition to those mentioned above;
  • the struggle to balance family, social and community commitments outside of work;
  • case studies showcasing the compounding effects of non-standard hours of work;
  • how to recognize signs and symptoms associated with these injurious effects;
  • recent changes to provincial and federal law setting out hours of work standards; and
  • effective controls to eliminate or reduce the health and safety impact of non-standard working hours. 

Non-standard working hours may be what our economy demands, and impossible to eliminate, especially when it comes to essential services. However, evidence also suggests there are ways, such as how shifts are rotated, that can help minimize their harmful effects on workers.

To learn more:
Visit: www.whsc.on.ca
Email: contactus@whsc.on.ca
Call: 1-888-869-7950 and ask to speak to a Training Services representative.