Professor to study shift workers

IT IS a cornerstone of Gladstone's resource boom, but shift work isn't a gig for the faint-hearted.

Questions surrounding the effects of shift work on workers' productivity, fatigue and alertness levels have been puzzled over for years with some industries introducing various initiatives, such as sleeping pods, in a bid to reduce the impact of irregular sleep patterns on their staff.

Now, with its newest senior research appointment, CQUniversity is also attempting to tackle this regionally relevant concern from an unlikely setting - Adelaide in South Australia.

The university has appointed renowned human factors and safety researcher Professor Drew Dawson to head the new Human Factors and Safety Research Centre, key aspects of which include access to a state-of-the-art sleep laboratory and cognitive performance facility.

The research could not have come at a better time according to QAL shift supervisor Glenn Butcher.

"I think there's definitely room for evaluating the impacts of work schedules on shift workers," he said.

"I've heard of some industries that put pods in their crib rooms, which allows workers to grab a 10- or 15-minute nap in their breaks."

"I'd like some more studies done into the benefits of providing those power nap intervals. I think they make a difference."

Professor Dawson said he hoped findings from the research would assist Gladstone industries.

"The research intensity of these roles is an obvious attraction, but I'm most excited about the practical application of the centre's research in addressing 'real world' issues in central Queensland."



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