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Mine Safety and Health Administration MSHA's Accident Prevention Program
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Work Schedules

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Mine Type: All Mines
Category: General Safety


Work related fatigue can become a problem when mining personnel work longer shifts and more consecutive days during the work week. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, American workers log more hours a year (1,966 hours) than those in any other industrialized country. Many workers work overtime on a regular basis.

Drawing of man sitting on bench A 1998 German study found that workers experienced a significant rise in accidents and traumatic incidents after nine to ten hours on the job. Other studies have found that people who are sleep-deprived as a result of overwork have an increased risk of injuries. For instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy drivers are responsible for 100,000 crashes, 71,000 injuries and 1,500 vehicular deaths each year. To reduce the risk of injuries in the mining industry due to fatigue:

  • Rotate workers through different jobs, if possible, to relieve the monotony of some tasks and where extended hours have created a risk to safety and health;

  • Allow appropriate rest and recuperation for employees; and,

  • Allow adequate and regular rest breaks and pauses. Meal breaks or rest breaks should not be traded for an early finish time.
Recognizing and managing work related fatigue benefits employers and employees by improving morale, safety, productivity and attrition rates.


Reissued: 04/30/2002
Tag # AP2002-S011