Experts warn of unhealthy shift work

SHIFT workers, those doing split shifts and those on casual hours needed extra work health regulations, a group of top health experts told a key government inquiry.

The Australian National University academics gave the Productivity Commission inquiry on workplace relations a submission this week.

It outlined the rising cost of obesity and other work-related diseases and illnesses; citing research showing 44% of the $8 billion national cost of obesity was due to lost productivity.

Led by Associate Professor Jane Dixon, the group of 10 academics wrote there was "clearly a need for additional regulations to protect and promote the health of workers".

The group wrote casual workers, those on split shifts and night shifts and those with "long work hours" were more prone to bad eating habits and poor sleep.

"Working time (long, unpredictable, non-standard hours) is now acknowledged as a major impediment to time for healthy eating, physical activity and sufficient sleep," the submission stated. The team urged the inquiry to consider the longer term consequences of "working time arrangements".

It also urged the commission to consider creating a team of health experts to advise the Fair Work Commission on shift-work arrangements and contracts.


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