Risks associated with fatigue that accumulates during work shifts have historically been managed through working time arrangements that specify fixed maximum durations of work shifts and minimum durations of time off. By themselves, such arrangements are not sufficient to curb risks to performance, safety, and health caused by misalignment between work schedules and the biological regulation of waking alertness and sleep. Science-based approaches for determining shift duration and mitigating associated risks, while addressing operational needs, require: (1) a recognition of the factors contributing to fatigue and fatigue-related risks; (2) an understanding of evidence-based countermeasures that may reduce fatigue and/or fatigue-related risks; and (3) an informed approach to selecting workplace-specific strategies for managing work hours. We propose a series of guiding principles to assist stakeholders with designing a shift duration decision-making process that effectively balances the need to meet operational demands with the need to manage fatigue-related risks.
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