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Work time control, sleep & accident risk: A prospective cohort study

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journal contribution
posted on 15.04.2016 by Philip Tucker, Sophie Albrecht, Göran Kecklund, Debby G. J. Beckers, Constanze Leineweber

We examined whether the beneficial impact of work time control (WTC) on sleep leads to lower accident risk, using data from a nationally representative survey conducted in Sweden. Logistic regressions examined WTC in 2010 and 2012 as predictors of accidents occurring in the subsequent 2 years (N = 4840 and 4337, respectively). Sleep disturbance and frequency of short sleeps in 2012 were examined as potential mediators of the associations between WTC in 2010 and subsequent accidents as reported in 2014 (N = 3636). All analyses adjusted for age, sex, education, occupational category, weekly work hours, shift work status, job control and perceived accident risk at work. In both waves, overall WTC was inversely associated with accidents (p = 0.048 and p = 0.038, respectively). Analyses of the sub-dimensions of WTC indicated that Control over Daily Hours (influence over start and finish times, and over length of shift) did not predict accidents in either wave, while Control over Time-off (CoT; influence over taking breaks, running private errands during work and taking paid leave) predicted fewer accidents in both waves (p = 0.013 and p = 0.010). Sleep disturbance in 2012 mediated associations between WTC/CoT in 2010 and accidents in 2014, although effects’ sizes were small (effectWTC = −0.006, 95% confidence interval [CI] = −0.018 to −0.001; effectCoT = −0.009, 95%CI = −0.022 to −0.001; unstandardized coefficients), with the indirect effects of sleep disturbance accounting for less than 5% of the total direct and indirect effects. Frequency of short sleeps was not a significant mediator. WTC reduces the risk of subsequently being involved in an accident, although sleep may not be a strong component of the mechanism underlying this association.