I recently chatting about sleep and shift work with a young FIFO worker on a flight, who said, "I bet you've never come across a roster like mine." He shared how he had previously been on a roster for over 3 years that had required him to work for 4 hours and then take 8 hours off, work 4, take 8 off on a continual rotation. During those eight hours off, he was often required to spend a couple of hours doing admin work which didn't leave much time for eating, sleeping or relaxing before going back on duty.
Detrimental to his health? Quite possibly.
My concern is not only the impact of that bizarre life on his sleep pattern but also his cognition. The risk to his health being compounded by the potential for the risk of injury or accident.
A new study reveals how memory and processing speed is adversely affected by long-term shift work and the recovery period can be up to 5 years!
Should we be re thinking how work rosters are formulated in the light of these findings?