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What is the real cost of Daylight Savings Time?

As many of our readers know, this last weekend marked the new cycle of Daylight Savings Time. But while most people just assume that we lose and hour and that’s the last of it, some researchers believe that there could be a higher cost to Daylight Savings Time: workplace safety.

For some here in San Diego this might not come as that big of a shock. For most people, that loss of an hour translates into a loss of sleep, which allows for fatigue to set in. As you may already know, fatigue is sometimes considered just as bad as being intoxicated; and when this element enters the workplace, accidents happen.

A 2009 study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, looked at more than 576,000 mining injuries that had been suffered between 1983 and 2006. After looking at the data, researchers noticed that not only did the number of workplace injuries increase but so too did the severity. As we noted before, fatigue may have played a considerable role.

But it’s not just coal miners who are at risk of suffering a work-related injury on the job. Previous studies have seen fatigue affect everyone from train conductors to commercial vehicle drivers. Even the risk of car accidents among the general population increases in the days following the Daylight Savings switch.

It’s worth noting that the high risk of injury only seems to happen in the spring rather than the fall time transition. Researchers believe that this is because it’s easier to keep yourself awake than it is to force yourself to fall asleep earlier.

Source: The Atlantic, “Be Careful! Workplace Injuries Spike Following the Switch to Daylight Saving Time,” Rebecca J. Rosen, Mar. 10, 2014

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