Many of the world’s leading experts on shift work are converging this week to present and discuss issues related to night shifts and non-standard working hours.

Organized by the Washington State University Sleep and Performance Research Center on behalf of the Working Time Society, the 24th International Symposium on Shiftwork and Working Time—Shiftwork2019—will bring together scientists and practitioners focused on improving the health and safety of shift workers.

Night shifts and other non-traditional work schedules are increasingly common. It is estimated that up to a quarter of the workforce works non-standard hours. In today’s 24/7 society, shift work helps keep economies running around the clock and has been adopted by a wide range of industries, including transportation, manufacturing, energy production, health care, emergency response, and the military. While it provides organizations with continuity of operations and economic gain, shift work also comes with challenges related to the safety and health of workers and the general public.

“Those who work nights or other nonstandard shifts are at increased risk of a wide range of health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer,” said Shiftwork2019 co-organizer Kimberly Honn, an assistant professor in the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine and a core faculty member of the university’s Sleep and Performance Research Center. “And shift workers’ schedules often put them out of sync with their bodies’ natural biological rhythms, which has the potential to reduce productivity and increase safety risks. This conference provides an opportunity for researchers and practitioners to meet so they can share the latest science and work collaboratively toward solutions to the most pressing issues.”