Shift work and its impact on organizations and individuals can be discussed from several approaches. Due to the limited extent of this work I want to summarize and discuss the importance of attributes of 12-hour shifts in the mining industry under social, psychological, physiological and performance aspects. Of these attributes, the first three are more important for the employees. Social attributes include domestic life and social life.

A longer period of leisure time allows workers to go home, although this probably depends on the location of the mine. The chance to join family and friends, to watch the development of the children, to experience ‘full fathering’ (ACTU report, 2001) and to participate in other leisure pursuits has a positive impact on the social life of the employee. “Twelve-hour shifts offer larger and more frequent blocks of leisure time… “. and. “.. minimizes the number of trips to and from work”. (Williamson, Gower and Clarke, 1994, p 287). “Being able to take several days off at a time is the greatest attraction” for employees (Nelson and Holland, 1998, p 11). The fact that the majority of the workers in the mining industry live near the mine during the shift may decrease the worth of the reduced number of trips to and from the mine in this particular industry.

Nevertheless the attraction of large blocks of off-days is the major incentive of the 12-h shift schedule. Among the employees the compressed workweek is very popular and this preference for the 12-h roster should be taken into account. Psychological well-being and the reduction of psychological distress are important concerns of the employees. The workers prefer 12-h schedules because they experience less tension, positive changes in mental state and better mood and this leads to an increase in well-being (Williamson et al., 1994). Physiological attributes include, for example, sleep patterns, circadian rhythms and short-term and long-term health outcomes. The empirical results considering health outcomes are ambiguous and one should interpret them carefully.

Williams et al. (1994) found that the change from 8-h shifts to 12-h shifts seems to improve the physical conditions of the workers, including a decrease in gastrointestinal, and sleeping problems, and irritability. An 12-hour roster tends to improve the health of the employees. The results of Rosa and Bonnet (1993) on the other hand imply that 12-h shifts are associated with increased fatigue and sleep deprivation. All the aspects mentioned above are also important for the employer, because a physiological and psychological healthy worker is better for the company than an ill or depressed one. However for the employer the performance aspect of the 12-h shift schedule, which includes productivity, safety and error, alertness, “first night dips” and absenteeism, seems to be the most important attribute.

According to Thomas (in Nelson & Holland, 1998, p 3) “the most frequently cited reasons by organisations for adopting 12 hour shifts are: a reduction in lost time due to shift changeovers, and an improvement in production and efficiency”. The increase of productivity and reduction of cost are the major incentives for the organization to change to a 12-h shift. The need for fewer staff levels and the simplified system which is easier to administer, are other advantages of a 12-h shift schedule. (Nelson & Holland, 1998). “Folkard, Rosa & Bonnet, and Landy all express concern about the safety and error rates of night shifts, and the extra fatigue effects of 12 hr shifts, which may lead to greater errors” (S. 52, Lees, 2003). This and the reduction of alertness on the 12-h shifts (Rosa & Bonnet, 1993) should be taken in consideration from the organizational side, because it can negatively affect the company’s outcomes.

Another important point, which impairs performance and also has negative influence on safety, is the first night dip (Lees, 2003). Furthermore, Williams et al. (1994) point out that under the 12-h schedule more short leaves were taken. It cannot be in the interest of the organization to increase the amount of absenteeism, safety risks or error rates. Despite the positive features of a 12-h roster, which are also discussed in question number two, the employees and employers have to be aware that a change to a 12-h shift should not be made because it is fashionable or motivated by the possibility of “moonlighting”, which could be a dangerous threat to health (Nelson & Holland, 1998). 2.

For the mining industry discussed in the tutorial, I want to recommend the following two schedules, the “continental”, as an 8-hour shift schedule, and an “Compressed 2-2-4” as a 12-hour schedule. The 12-hour schedule (see table 1) is a 2 12 hour days, 2 12 hour nights and then four days off roster. It includes rapid forward rotating hours, continuous work weeks and requires four crews to provide the 24 hour cover. For any particular day, two crews are off, a third does the night shift and the fourth does the day shift. The system contains not more than two nights in a row followed by a block of days off. The day shift starts at 8 am and the night shift at 8 pm.

The basic sequence is 8 days and the major cycle is 56 days long The “Continental” or 2-2-3 roster (see table 2) is a rapid, forward rotating system. It is a continuous work system with no more than three successive night shifts followed by off time. After seven working days there are two or three days off. The day shift starts at 7 am, the afternoon at 3 pm and the night at 11 pm. There are four schedules, so on any particular day there is one crew off and the others running either a day, afternoon or night shift. The schedule has a major cycle and a basic sequence of 28 days.

Considering the factors mentioned by Landy (in Lees, 2003), which cause shift work coping problems, I want to draw attention to the direction and speed of rotation, the length of major cycle, the starting time, the sequence of the shifts and the continuous work weeks. My main focus is to prevent employees from negative health outcomes. According to Wilkinson (in Folkard, 1992) the main problem of shiftwork is that people have evolved to be adapted to the day and night rhythm of our environment. Shiftwork displaces the sleep-wake pattern (Akerstedt in Folkard and Monk, 1985).

The reason is that our endogenous ‘body clocks’ and circadian rhythms impair our adjustment to sleep in the day and work at a night… Considering the fact that there are two main ways to avoid the continual disruption of circadian rhythms, the rapidly rotating shift system is chosen. This system minimizes the number of successive night shifts, which should lessen disruption of circadian rhythms (Folkard, 1992) and decrease the build-up of fatigue (Williams et al., 1994). According to Pierce, New strom, Dunham and Barber (1989, p 100) “rapid rotation every two-four days… is expected to minimize the disturbance of the employee’s biological rhythms and to avoid an accumulation of sleep deficits”. Rapidly rotating shift systems seem to decrease the cumulative sleep debt, which is one of the combined factors that impair performance and safety on night shifts. Furthermore, on rapidly rotating systems, employees tend to be happier (Folkard, 1992).

A rapid backward rotation should be avoided, because of the occurrence of “quick returns” or “double-backs” (Lees, 2003). Pierce et al. (S. 101, 1989) recommend, “rotate shifts clockwise, from mornings to afternoons to nights”. A long and difficult schedule complicates the employees’ planning and organisation of social life (Lees, 2003). This is the reason why the major cycle of the two recommended schedules are just 28 and 56 days long. I recommend a continuous work week because any shut down of the mine or production stop impairs the productivity.

The compressed work schedule in particular has the advantage of larger periods of days off. I already discussed the advantages under question one, but also the “the continental” comes up with one three day off period in each major cycle. The recommended sequence of shifts takes into consideration that after a row of third or night shifts a period of time off should follow and that no shift starts before 7 am (Lees, 2003). 1366.