Prevention measures for night shift workers

Research by the Health Council of the Netherlands has shown that long-time night shift workers are at greater risk of developing certain health problems. The more nighttime work they do, the higher the risk. Follow the prevention measures listed below to help improve the well-being of your night shift personnel.

We are naturally programmed to be active during the day and to sleep when it's dark outside. Disrupting this natural cycle can lead to health issues, especially in people who have done nighttime work for many years, as shown by research conducted by the Health Council of the Netherlands.

Night workers in Belgium

In Belgium, around 3% of the working population does regular or occasional nighttime work. Belgian legislation on night shift work is very strict: essentially, people are not permitted to work between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. However, exceptions are made for certain industries (e.g. hotels, restaurants and hospitals), types of labour (e.g. where permanent attendance is required) and certain job positions (e.g. service station staff).

Prevention measures for nighttime work

Night shift workers are legally defined as ‘workers who carry out job duties that come with a certain risk’. This is also confirmed by the research done by the Health Council of the Netherlands: nachtwerkernighttime workers are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes (in older adults). Employers can take measures to reduce these health risks considerably.   

Start by implementing these prevention measures:

  1. Encourage your workers to adopt a healthier lifestyle:
    • Promote healthy eating habits. Light meals with a low fat content are ideal because the digestive system slows down at night. Choose fruit over high-caffeine foods and drinks. Moving more and sitting less is always important, even during nighttime work: encourage employees to take the stairs instead of the elevator.   
    • Discourage smoking or vaping and alcohol consumption.
  2. Inform your workers about the importance of a healthy sleep pattern. The use of sleeping pills should be avoided. Keeping the bedroom well ventilated, installing efficient blockout curtains and maintaining a regular sleep pattern of at least six hours a day will help the body recuperate.   
  3. Emphasise the importance of maintaining social interactions: making time for colleagues, family and friends as well as outings and cultural activities is crucial for the well-being of workers.

Improve the well-being of your nachtwerkernight shift personnel

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