Night and shift workers

Managers must undertake a risk assessment for night and shift work. Night work refers to work carried out between 12 midnight and 7am on the following day.

You are a night worker if you:

  • normally work at least 3 hours of your daily working time during night time
  • your number of night-time working hours is 50%, or more, of the total number of hours, worked for that year

Shift work is when different groups of workers do the same jobs in relay. It can involve evening or night shifts, early morning shifts, and rotating shifts.

Negative effects of night and shift work

The negative effects of night and shift work include:

  • disruption of your internal body clock (circadian rhythms)
  • sleeping difficulties
  • fatigue
  • disruption to family and social life
  • health effects
  • errors and accidents

If you become unwell because of night or shift work, you can self-refer to your local occupational health department. Your manager can also make a referral.

Risk assessment by managers

Managers must undertake a general risk assessment (Word, 40KB, 2 pages) for night and shift work.

The risk factors to assess are:

  • workload
  • work activity
  • shift pattern
  • timing and duration
  • breaks
  • physical environment
  • welfare issues
  • rotation
  • management issues

Some employees may be at higher risk because of night and shift work.

These include:

  • pregnant employees
  • employees with pre-existing health conditions
  • new employees

Additional control measures may be needed to lessen the risk for these employees.

Some measures to consider include:

  • providing information about the need for proper sleep and the dangers of fatigue
  • ensuring night and shift workers have risk assessments and workstation assessments
  • adjusting exposure levels to noise, chemicals and physical hazards
  • ensuring car parks and external entrances are well lit at night
  • ensuring proper ventilation of the workplace
  • safeguarding lone workers
  • include night and shift workers in training initiatives
  • provide welfare facilities

Health assessment for night workers

Managers must offer an assessment of the health effects of night working.

This assessment should be offered:

  • before employing a person as a night worker
  • at regular intervals during their employment as a night worker

A registered medical practitioner, or a person acting under their supervision, must carry out this assessment. They will inform the manager if the employee is fit or unfit to perform the night work concerned.

Contact HSE Health and Safety helpdesk

Use the Health and Safety self-service portal or

Phone: 1800 420 420

Monday to Friday 10.30am to 12 noon and 2.00pm to 3.30pm