Guidance about working hours

Why do working hours matter?

Working appropriate hours is an integral part of ensuring fitness for work. Issues associated with working hours arrangements that are inadequate may include:

  • impaired physical and mental performance
  • symptoms of work-related stress
  • increased exposure to hazards (e.g. hazardous substances, noise, physical hazards)
  • longer term health effects.

For example, long working hours have been linked to health risks such as sleep deprivation, sleep disturbance and fatigue. Fatigue has also been identified as a potential health risk for work that involves shifts or regular or periodic night work.

Code of practice and guidelines

A code of practice has been prepared that provides high level general guidance and recommendations on working hours risk management for both employers and workers.

The code and accompanying guidelines also address hazards and risks commonly associated with working hour arrangements.

Working hours - code of practice - 433 Kb

Working hours - code of practice: This code provides guidance for employers and workers on the management of safety and health hazards and risks commonly associated with working hours arrangements.

Working hours risk management guidelines - code of practice - 212 Kb

Working hours risk management guidelines - code of practice: This is a tool for use in considering potential occupational safety and health hazard factors and risks from workplace/industry working hours arrangement.

Related information

Refer to the following links:

The UK-based Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Energy Institute have extensive collections of online guidance on human factors, including fatigue and shift work.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has published a paper on Shiftwork (PDF 1251 kb), including some international research studies on the effects of shift work.