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New fathers a safety risk at work

Participants in the study worked an average of 49 hours per week and only took five days off at the birth of the baby.
Participants in the study worked an average of 49 hours per week and only took five days off at the birth of the baby. iStockphoto.com

WORKING fathers with new babies experience cumulative fatigue that may pose a risk in the workplace, according to new research from Southern Cross University.

The study conducted by Southern Cross University senior lecturer Dr Gary Mellor from the School of Health and Human Services in conjunction with Dr Winsome St John, of Griffith University, investigated the relationship between fatigue and work safety behaviour of fathers with new babies using a survey that included 241 fathers mostly living on the Gold Coast.

"I came up with the idea while I was at a barbecue just after we had had our second child and I was telling the guys how tired I was and how I had nearly run off the road," Dr Mellor said.

"The guys at the barbecue then told me similar stories and I checked the research and not much had been done about sleep deprivation in fathers and how that affected their safety at work or to and from work.

"The survey was completed once by the fathers at six weeks and then again at 12 weeks and we found that while fatigue was increasing, the way fathers thought about safety at work changed.

"Men were keen to tell their story and it seems they are 36% more likely to have a near-miss at work and 26% more likely to have a near miss on the road to and from work than someone else.

"The results paint a disturbing picture of fathers with babies undergoing worsening fatigue over the first 12 weeks of their baby's life, unrelieved by poor and interrupted sleep and with potential consequences to their work safety."

Dr Mellor suggests that measures may need to be implemented to help fathers cope with the strain of a new baby on their occupational health and safety.

"Parental leave may need to be reconsidered with the way it is allocated," he said.

Dr Mellor said participants in the study worked an average of 49 hours per week and only took five days off at the birth of the baby.

Topics:  fatigue health and safety sleep deprivation



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