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Shift work and work injury in the New Zealand Blood Donors’ Health Study


Objective: To investigate associations between work patterns and the occurrence of work injury.

Methods: A cross sectional analysis of the New Zealand Blood Donors Health Study conducted among the 15 687 (70%) participants who reported being in paid employment. After measurement of height and weight, a self-administered questionnaire collected information concerning occupation and work pattern, lifestyle behaviour, sleep, and the occurrence of an injury at work requiring treatment from a doctor during the past 12 months.

Results: Among paid employees providing information on work pattern, 3119 (21.2%) reported doing shift work (rotating with nights, rotating without nights, or permanent nights) and 1282 (8.7%) sustained a work injury. In unadjusted analysis, work injury was most strongly associated with employment in heavy manual occupations (3.6, 2.8 to 4.6) (relative risk, 95% CI), being male (1.9, 1.7 to 2.2), being obese (1.7, 1.5 to 2.0), working rotating shifts with nights (2.1, 1.7 to 2.5), and working more than three nights a week (1.9, 1.6 to 2.3). Snoring, apnoea or choking during sleep, sleep complaints, and excessive daytime sleepiness were also significantly associated with work injury. When mutually adjusting for all significant risk factors, rotating shift work, with or without nights, remained significantly associated with work injury (1.9, 1.5 to 2.4) and (1.8, 1.2 to 2.6), respectively. Working permanent night shifts was no longer significantly associated with work injury in the adjusted model.

Conclusion: Work injury is highly associated with rotating shift work, even when accounting for increased exposure to high risk occupations, lifestyle factors, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

  • injury
  • shiftwork
  • sleep

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