This report explores the lives of those people who work at night: the men and women who keep our hospitals open, clean our offices, allow us to cancel lost credit cards, serve us drinks in a club or drive us home afterwards. It tells their stories. Who are they? What jobs do they do? Why do they work at night? How does night work affect them? What impact does it have on their social and family lives?

Night work is not a new phenomenon; evidence of working night shifts goes back at least as far as Roman times and levels rose during the Industrial Revolution. However, it was the transformation to heavily mechanised industrial processes during the 20th century – and the proliferation of electric lighting – which saw dramatic increases in round-the-clock working. Modern industry is dependent on expensive equipment that becomes more cost-effective if it is operating, and therefore manned, 24 hours a day.

During the course of this study we spent time with over 50 night workers – following and observing them as they worked their shifts, asking questions and listening to their stories and experiences. This exploratory ethnographic research revealed a vulnerable workforce, which is poorly supported and whose members are – for the most part – unaware of the risks they face on nightly basis.

Education & Employment Health & wellbeing

Posted on: 1 March 2011 Authors: Will Norman,


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