Daylight Saving Time – Workers Adjust to Falling Back better than Spring Forward

November 4th, 2011


Researchers at Michigan State University  recently analyzed the number of injuries reported to the Mine Safety and Health Administration(MSHA) from 1983 to 2006 (The U.S. Department of Labor requires all mine operators to investigate and report all mining-related injuries).  The researchers also looked at the number of workdays employees missed as a result of their injuries.  Across the 24 years, there were 576,292 reported injuries on the job.

As reported by EHS Today in 2009, on average, 3.6 more injuries occurred on the Mondays following the switch to DST compared to other days, and 2,649 more days of work were lost as a result of those injuries.  That’s approximately a 68% increase in lost workdays.  Work experience did not appear to play a role in the number of injuries suffered.  The researchers did not, however, find any significant changes in the number and severity of workplace injuries on the Mondays after the switch to standard time in the fall, when people gained an hour.  Further analysis of the American Time Use Survey showed that people had a much easier time adjusting their sleep schedules and did not, on average, sleep less or more after they changed to standard time.

The Dawn of Daylight Saving Time

Although Benjamin Franklin first suggested Daylight Saving Time (DST) in 1784, modern DST was not proposed until 1895 when an entomologist from New Zealand, George Vernon Hudson, presented a proposal for a two-hour daylight saving shift to the Wellington Philosophical Society primarily to allow sufficient daylight in the evening for him to happily collect insects and bugs as part of his hobby.   His full time job got in the way of collecting these little buggers during the day.

Starting on 30 April 1916, Germany and its World War I allies were the first to use DST as a way to conserve coal during wartime.  The United States finally adopted DST in 1918  when Congress signed into the law the railroad time zone system which called for the observance of daylight saving time nationwide.  However parts of the law were repealed the following year, and daylight saving time thereafter became a matter left up to local jurisdictions.

Oversight of daylight saving time resided with the Interstate Commerce Commission until in 1966, Congress passed the Uniform Time Act, which standardized the start and end dates for daylight saving time but continued to allow individual states to remain on standard time if their legislatures allowed it.  A 1972 amendment extended the option not to observe daylight saving time to areas on the border of two time zones but within the same U.S. state.  Before the move by Congress in 2005 to extend daylight saving time, the most recent modification occurred in 1986, when the start date was moved from the last Sunday in April to the first Sunday in April.

Daylight Saving Time = More Evening Daylight

Daylight saving time decreases the amount of daylight in the morning hours,  so that more daylight is available during the evening.   However, not everyone benefits from the daylight saving time change.  Contrary to what most people may think farmers and others who rise before dawn have to operate in the dark a while longer before daybreak therefore do not receive any benefits from the change.  Modern DST, however, can bring some safety benefits.  Research has shown that more available daylight does decrease the number of traffic accidents, traffic fatalities, and incidences of crime.  In 1995 the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimated a reduction of 1.2%, including a 5% reduction in crashes fatal to pedestrians.

When we change our clocks…

  • Daylight Saving Time begins for most of the United States at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday of March.
  • Time reverts to standard time at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November. In the U.S., each time zone switches at a different time.

Twice a year, when Daylight Saving Time begins or ends, make it a habit to not only change your clocks, but do a few other semi-annual tasks that will improve safety in your home

Do these things every 6 months when you reset your clocks:

  • Check and replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. Replace any smoke alarms older than ten years. Replace any CO alarms older than five years.
  • Prepare a disaster supply kit for your house (water, food, flashlights, batteries, blankets).Once you’ve created your home disaster kit, use the semi-annual time change to check its contents (including testing/replacing flashlight batteries).
  • A COLD winter is coming! Make a “winter car-emergency kit“ now and put your vehicle!  It’s a good idea to carry a car-emergency kit in your car year-round, but be sure to add cold-weather gear to your general car-emergency kit each fall.  Like a Boy Scout, “Be Prepared!”

In cold weather, even a very minor car problem or flat tire can be deadly serious, or at the very least, miserable to deal with, unless you’re well prepared.

  • Check home and outbuilding storage areas for hazardous materials.  Discard (properly, please) any which are outdated, no longer used, or in poor condition.   Move any which are within reach of kids or pets.
  • Check and discard expired medications - those dates really DO have meaning - some very common over-the-counter medications can cause serious problems due to change through aging.