Do Long Workhours Impact Health, Safety, and Productivity at a Heavy Manufacturer?

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Abstract

Objectives:

To test the health, safety, and productivity effects of long workhours.

Methods:

Secondary analyses of a longitudinal employee panel (n = 2746). Average hours worked during spring 2001 were assessed relative to health, safety, and productivity outcomes spanning summer 2001 through spring 2002.

Results:

Employees working overtime were no more likely to incur adverse physical or mental health, presenteeism, or disability outcomes. Those working 60+ hours were more likely to report new injuries and diagnoses, but these effects were overwhelmed by prior health, demographics, and compensation type.

Conclusions:

Much previous work has suggested that long workhours generate a wide range of adverse outcomes across the employee continuum. This study found no evidence for pervasive workhour effects. Rather, long workhours—especially weekly schedules at the 60 hour or above mark—can lead to problems in certain areas of health and safety. More research is needed that tests group differences across segmented characteristics (eg, poor versus good health) but keeps workhour impact in perspective.

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