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A closer look at the impact of Daylight Savings on coal mining safety

There is a very good chance that you were feeling slightly more fatigued than usual last Monday thanks to Daylight Savings, which studies have shown causes the average American to lose 40 minutes of sleep on the Sunday night after they "spring forward."

While most of us may grumble about having to change all of our clocks and pour an extra cup of coffee to get through the day, the fact remains that the overall impact of Daylight Savings is negligible for most people.

However, it should be noted that studies have shown that there are some workers for whom Daylight Savings is more than just an inconvenience, but rather a real hazard.

To illustrate, consider a 2009 study by Michigan State researchers examining how Daylight Savings has affected workplace safety in one of West Virginia's biggest revenue-producing sectors -- the coal mining industry.

Published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, the study carefully scrutinized 576,292 coal mining injuries from 1983 to 2006. Here, the researchers determined that there was an average of roughly 63 on-the-job injuries reported by coal miners on Mondays over the 23-year timeframe. However, this average jumped by 5.7 percent -- to 66.6 on-the-job injuries -- on the Mondays following Daylight Savings.

As if this wasn't shocking enough, the researchers also determined that the severity of work injuries sustained on the Mondays following Daylight Savings also increased, with the number of days away from work jumping by 67.6 percent.

Not surprisingly, the researchers pointed the finger for these unfortunate figures squarely at the temporary, yet not all insignificant, fatigue brought on by Daylight Savings.

In order to help combat this problem, the researchers recommended that coal mining operations consider implementing such simple steps as starting shifts at least 45 minutes later during the first few days after Daylight Savings before gradually shifting back to regular hours. Similarly, they recommended asking coal miners to perform the more dangerous elements of their jobs later in the week after their internal clocks had adjusted to the time shift.

We can only hope that the coal mining industry here in West Virginia and across the nation is continuing to take these recommendations seriously.

If you or a loved one have suffered serious coal mining injuries, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about your options and your rights.

Source: The Atlantic, "Be careful! Workplace injuries spike following the switch to daylight saving time," Rebecca Rosen, March 10, 2014

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