The Journal of Science of Labour
Online ISSN : 2187-2570
Print ISSN : 0022-443X
Brief Reports
Development of “The Shift Work Challenge” as a Risk Communication Tool
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2014 Volume 90 Issue 2 Pages 65-70


As commonly known, major accidents and disasters involving public transportation, medical organizations or large-scale processing industries tend to occur during the late-night and early-morning hours. To prevent these incidents, an understanding of the safety risks associated with work at night, based on scientific research, is essential - not just among employers and managers at industries that schedule night and shift work but among night and shift workers. Major accidents can also have significant effects on the social lives of citizens who are not involved in doing night and shift work. For this reason, it is important that citizens unrelated to night and shift work understand the safety risks that night and shift workers are faced with.
To facilitate this understanding through risk communication, the authors designed a certification examination to test the knowledge of the risks associated with night and shift work. The questions used in the examination concerned the physiological, psychological, and ergonomic aspects of the scheduling of night and shift work, as well as the actual facts of night and shift work for each industry. Inspired by the Ice Bucket Challenge and related activities, they gave the examination a playful name: “The Shift Work Challenge”. This report compares rates of correct answers given by workers from two occupations in response to 20 multiple-choice practice questions (each with four choices). The questions were administered to 83 train drivers and 100 occupational health nurses. Seventy-one valid answer sheets were collected from train drivers and 76 from occupational health nurses. The average rate of correct answers was 43.5% for train drivers and 52.5% for occupational health nurses. For Question 20 (Q20) and Q 10, the percentage of correct answers given by train drivers was 70% or better; for Q12 and Q3, this figure was 20% or worse. For Q20, Q14, Q15, Q10, Q19 and Q17, the percentage of correct answers given by occupational health nurses was 70% or better; for Q7 and Q12, this figure was 20% or worse. Those with night and shift work experience gave correct answers at a rate of 46.3%. On the other hand, among those without experience was 30.4%. Same tendencies were found between those with and those without night shift experience in rates of correct response to questions associated with either high or low rates of correct answers.
For questions associated with either high or low overall rates of correct answers, the rates of correct responses tended to be similar across job type, age category and the extent of experience with night and shift work. While rates of correct answers generally tended to be higher among those with night and shift work experience than those without such experience, occupational health nurses still gave a higher rate of correct answers than train drivers, although nurses reported less experience with night and shift work than train drivers. Based on these findings, the authors speculated that rates of correct answers may be driven by the extent of interest in night and shift work, rather than their actual experience. It may be, for example, that occupational health nurses face health management issues related to night and shift workers in their everyday duties. On this basis, the authors conclude that “the Shift Work Challenge” may serve as an effective tool for risk communication.

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© 2014 The Institute for Science of Labour
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