NIOSH: Total Worker Health Concepts Can Reduce Retail Worker Fatigue
A new NIOSH “workplace solutions” document explains how Total Worker Health concepts can help address fatigue among retail workers. According to the agency, retail workers in the U.S. are engaging in more shift work and longer work hours. Irregular and extended shifts and reduced staff are among recent trends in the retail industry. NIOSH’s new document highlights risk factors for occupational fatigue, including long work hours, heavy workload, job stress, late evening work hours, night work, and irregular shifts. The agency recommends an integrated approach for addressing fatigue in retail work and urges employers to address factors that affect both the workplace and employees’ home life, including autonomy at work, workload, and environmental factors.  The agency defines Total Worker Health, or TWH, as "policies, programs, and practices that integrate protection from work-related safety and health hazards with promotion of injury and illness prevention efforts to advance worker well-being." NIOSH urges employers to consider several TWH concepts to reduce retail worker fatigue, including implementing a fatigue risk management system. Employers should also consider shortening work shifts that involve heavy workloads and redistributing heavy workloads to times when workers are more alert. Steps that retail employers can take right away include limiting night shifts to no longer than eight hours whenever possible; avoiding scheduling employees to work opening shifts right after closing shifts; and ensuring that 12-hour shifts do not include excessive workloads. According to NIOSH, employers should also allow for adequate rest breaks and allow at least 10 hours between shifts. The document is available from the NIOSH website.