A night worker is defined as a person who normally works between midnight and 7.00am the following day and works 50% or more of their annual working hours at night. In general, night workers:
- are not allowed to be under 18 years old.
- should not work more than an average of eight hours in a 24-hour period, averaged over 17 weeks.
- cannot opt out from this limit unless it is allowed for by a collective workforce agreement, although in a number of specified cases you can average night work over a 26-week period.
- must be offered a free health assessment before they start working nights.
- must subsequently be offered regular follow-up examinations by a health professional.
Night working often raises a number of issues, such as lone working and maintenance of first aid cover etc. A specific risk assessment should be carried out identifying the problems that your workforce may face as a result of out of hours working. You should take account of the fact that concentration and skill levels may be less efficient between the hours of 1.00am and 6.00am and particularly between 4.00am and 6.00am. To reduce the risks to physical health and psychological wellbeing that shift working can present, you should ensure that:
- there are effective measures in place to deal with emergency situations and that contact can be made with the emergency services. Access to the telephone is essential.
- workers are properly supervised.
- Senior Managers, not at work, should be available to give advice on problems and issues that arise. risks to personal safety have been assessed for workers who arrive or leave late at night or early in the morning, when there may be increased risk of assault.
- security of the premises is maintained throughout the shift.
- there is adequate first aid cover.
- lighting inside and outside the premises is sufficient for the work during hours of darkness and there is adequate emergency lighting.
- the working temperature is comfortable. Can the heating system cope with a cold winter night? In some jobs thermal clothing may be provided to retain body heat.