Short rest between shifts (quick returns) and night work is associated with work-related accidents

  • Øystein VedaaEmail author
  • Anette Harris
  • Eilin K. Erevik
  • Siri Waage
  • Bjørn Bjorvatn
  • Børge Sivertsen
  • Bente E. Moen
  • Ståle Pallesen
Original Article



The aim of this study was to examine whether less than 11 h between shifts (i.e., quick returns, QRs) and night shifts is associated with self-reported work-related accidents, near accidents or dozing off at work in a sample of nurses.


The study was based on cross-sectional data from 1784 nurses (response rate = 60%; mean age = 40.1 years, SD = 8.4; 91% female). Negative binomial regression analyses were conducted to investigate the association between the shift exposures, and eight different self-reported work-related items on accidents, near accidents and dozing off at work, controlling for demographics and work factors.


The number of QRs during a year was positively associated with seven of the eight items on work-related accidents, near-accidents and dozing off at work, and number of night shifts was positively associated with five items. Some of the key findings were that QRs were associated with nurses causing harm to themselves (incidence rate ratio [IRR] = 1.009; 95% CI = 1.005–1.013), causing harm to patients/others (IRR = 1.006; 95% CI = 1.002–1.010) and causing harm to equipment (IRR = 1.004; 95% CI = 1.001–1.007); while night shifts were associated with nurses involuntarily dozing off at work (IRR = 1.015; 95% CI = 1.013–1.018), dozing off while driving to/from work (IRR = 1.009; 95% CI = 1.006–1.011), and harming patients/others (IRR = 1.005; 95% CI = 1.001–1.009).


QRs and night shifts were both associated with the self-reported work-related accidents, near-accidents and dozing off at work. Studies that can establish the causal relationship between QRs and accidents are called for.


Quick returns Night shifts Accidents Injury Near accidents Dozing off 



The study was partly funded from Nordforsk, Nordic Program on Health and Welfare (74809).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Øystein Vedaa
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Anette Harris
    • 4
  • Eilin K. Erevik
    • 4
  • Siri Waage
    • 5
    • 6
  • Bjørn Bjorvatn
    • 5
    • 6
  • Børge Sivertsen
    • 1
    • 2
    • 7
  • Bente E. Moen
    • 5
  • Ståle Pallesen
    • 4
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Mental HealthNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Department of Health PromotionNorwegian Institute of Public HealthBergenNorway
  3. 3.Division of Mental Health Care, Department of ØstmarkaSt. Olavs University HospitalTrondheimNorway
  4. 4.Department of Psychosocial ScienceUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  5. 5.Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, Centre for International HealthUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  6. 6.Norwegian Competence Center for Sleep DisordersHaukeland University HospitalBergenNorway
  7. 7.Department of Research and InnovationHelse Fonna HFHaugesundNorway

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