Invited article

Scand J Work Environ Health 1999;25(6):610-615    pdf | Issue date: Dec 1999

Towards the 24-hour society - new approaches for aging shift workers?

by Härmä MI, Ilmarinen JE

The new "24-hour society" increases night work and the diversity of flexible workhour patterns. At the same time, the number of older shift workers is growing in most developed countries due to the general aging of the working population. Together with new experimental and epidemiologic data on the alarming relationship of shift work to fatigue, performance, accidents, and chronic health effects like coronary heart disease, there is reason to believe that shift work may become a major occupational health and safety problem in the near future. The prevention of shiftwork-related health and safety problems will be a major challenge for the employer, employees, and occupational health professionals during the next few decades. The present paper shortly summarizes the current knowledge on the relationship between shift work, aging, and health and outlines practical countermeasures and research needs to improve the health and well-being of aging shift workers.