Original article

Scand J Work Environ Health 2003;29(4):261-269    pdf

doi:10.5271/sjweh.730

Effects of the implementation of an 84-hour workweek on neurobehavioral test performance and cortisol responsiveness during testing

by Persson R, Ørbæk P, Ursin H, Kecklund G, Österberg K, Åkerstedt T

Objectives This study examined whether long workhours in combination with an extended workweek (12 hours/7 days), as requested by the workers, impaired attention and cognitive performance and whether the degree of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) activation was related to in response to the performance tasks.

Methods A group of 41 male construction workers between 21 and 60 (mean 39) years of age who worked 84 hours a week, with alternate weeks off, was compared with a group of 23 male construction workers between 24 and 65 (mean 43) years of age who had a traditional 40-hour work schedule. Neurobehavioral test performance, self-ratings of fatigue and sleepiness, and salivary cortisol levels were evaluated in a counterbalanced repeated- measures design.

Results The 84-hour group did not show any signs of reduced test performance or elevated fatigue and sleepiness. The 84-hour group had faster reaction times on day 7 than on days 1 and 5. Although the expected activation of the HPA axis was only found in the total study sample when workdays 1 and 5 were collapsed, the HPA activation can be considered normal.

Conclusions The results suggest that an 84-hour work regimen in response to requests from workers does not induce more performance deficits than an ordinary 40-hour workweek. An extended work schedule of 84 hours cannot in the short-term be considered to affect basic mental capabilities negatively.

This article refers to the following texts of the Journal: 2000;26(3):219-226  1998;24 suppl 3:69-75
The following articles refer to this text: 2006;32(4):318-327; 2006;32(5):349-358