Associations Between Employees’ Work Schedules and the Vocational Consequences of Workplace Injuries


Introduction This study examines the effect of long-hour work schedules and nonstandard shift work (e.g., night and evening shifts) on the ability of injured workers to maintain productive employment following a workplace injury. Methods Analyses were based on 13 years of data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. Multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed with one of ten nonstandard schedules as the independent variable and a particular vocational consequences as the dependent variable. Vocational consequences included being unable to perform normal job duties, temporary job reassignment, working less than full time, filing a workers’ compensation claim, and quitting or being fired because of the injury. Covariates in the regression model included age, gender, occupation, industry, and region. Results The most prominent effects of working a nonstandard schedule were a increased risk of being fired (OR = 1.81; 1.15–2.90 CI 95%), quitting (OR = 1.68; 1.20–2.36 CI 95%), or being unable to work full time (OR = 1.33; 1.08–1.64 CI 95%) following an injury, compared to injured workers in conventional schedules. Schedules involving overtime and long working hours generally had a greater impact on vocational consequences following a workplace injury than did schedules involving night, evening, and other nonstandard shift work. Conclusions Occupational rehabilitation professionals need to consider the specific type of work schedule when developing effective return-to-work plans for injured workers. Special precautions need to be taken for workers returning to schedules that involve more than 12 h per day, 60 h per week, and long commutes.

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Correspondence to Allard E. Dembe.

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Dembe, A.E., Delbos, R., Erickson, J.B. et al. Associations Between Employees’ Work Schedules and the Vocational Consequences of Workplace Injuries. J Occup Rehabil 17, 641–651 (2007).

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  • Shift work
  • Overtime
  • Long hours
  • Return to work
  • Rehabilitation
  • Vocational consequences