While most office jobs operate on a standard 40-hour work week with employees
working 8 hour days from Monday through Friday, industrial sites that
operate around the clock are generally not afforded that luxury. Because
workers need to be onsite 24 hours a day, most industrial companies operate
on 12-hour shift schedules.
There are many different types of 12-hour schedules and each one has a
number of variations. Picking a schedule that is right for your company
can be challenging. Each schedule has its own pros and cons that must
be considered and evaluated according to your company’s needs.
Most Common 12-Hour Shift Schedules
Let’s take a look at the three most commonly used 12-hour shift schedules.
The DuPont has been in use since the 1950’s and its name is derived
from the company that originated it. The schedule revolves around a maximum
of four consecutive day or night shifts and a single day off between another
three consecutive day or night shifts. Employees then have a 7 or 8 day
period of consecutive days off during every 28-day rotation.
Pros: While employees have long stretches with very few days off, they also enjoy
having a weeklong “mini-vacation” each month.
Cons: Working several consecutive night shifts and long stretches with limited
days off causes fatigue. Employees also have a tough time re-adjusting
to work when they get back from their 7-8 day off time.
The 2-3-2 was first introduced in the 1960’s and became popular in
the 1980’s. The schedule is based on a 14 day period in which employees
work 2 days on, 2 days off, 3 days on, 2 days off, 2 days on, and 3 days
off. It is sometimes referred to as “every other weekend off.”
This type of schedule is widely used in oil refineries.
Pros: Employees know they never have to work more than three consecutive days
in a row and will always have every other weekend off.
Cons: This shift requires workers to switch back and forth between day and night
shifts, which can lead to fatigue. Also, while employees never work more
than three days in a row, they also never have more than three days in
a row off.
Four On, Four Off (or 4 x 4)
As its name states, this schedule requires employees to work four consecutive
day or night shifts followed by four consecutive days off. While it varies
by company, employees typically rotate day and night shifts as frequently
as every 8 days or as infrequently as every 24 days.
Pros: Always having four consecutive days off gives employees plenty of time
to recuperate between shifts. This schedule also provides employees with
three consecutive weekends off during every eight week cycle.
Cons: Because this schedule is based on an eight day period rather than the standard
seven day week, employees’ days off are pushed forward by a day
each period. That can make scheduling future plans difficult since workers
do not have set days off. It also means that during every eight week period,
there are five consecutive weeks in which employees must work at least
one day on the weekend. For some, four consecutive shifts can be tiring as well.
Each of these 12-hour work shift schedules can be altered in various ways
to suit your needs. When evaluating a shift schedule, it is important
to understand the pros and cons of each and how they impact workplace safety.
Follow this link for more information on health and safety in the workplace.