Air traffic controllers and the night shift.

There’s been a great big hubbub lately about air traffic controllers falling asleep, or otherwise not able to pay attention, while on the job.  I suspected almost immediately what the problem was, and I found confirmation today here.   They work swing shifts.  That means that on a set schedule of days or weeks (and it looks like days here which is the worst) they rotate between a day shift and a night shift.

Look, its bad enough when this is done in an industry where lives aren’t on the line, but there are an awful lot of industries, and air traffic controller just topped my list, where this sort of schedule is done regularly.  Apparently in this case the union is trying to keep it because it allows a 3 day weekend afterwards.  Whoop-de-doo.  So I risk fall asleep on my last shift of the week, potentially allowing hundreds of people to die in a plane crash, just so I can have a 3 day weekend.  Urm, NO.

Very simple solution, eliminate swing shifts.  Period.  Oh, yes make sure theres always more than one person working, just in case, but eliminate swing shifts, or at least make the swing a matter of months rather than days or weeks.  People’s bodies can’t adapt properly to a new shift in a matter of a few hrs or even a few days.  Most people take several days to several weeks to switch over completely.  But once they’re switched they’ll function better.  Better yet, make the night shifts a permanent thing.  There are people who prefer the night shift, or some variation there of, whether a late 2nd shift, or a very early 1st shift, or a true 3rd shift.  Doesn’t matter, thats the shift they prefer.  Would allowing them to take a nap while on lunch be ok too?  Sure, but if you make sure people work the shift full time they’ll be adapted enough that the NEED for naps won’t be as great.  Plus if you work the schedule right you could still have the occasional 3 day weekend. 

Presto, problem solved.  If I can see it, why can’t they??