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Which do you prefer?

Rotating shift work
14 (31.8%)
Straight shifts (nights or days)
22 (50%)
Mixture of Dayshift and Rotating shift work
3 (6.8%)
I would NEVER work rotating shift work
5 (11.4%)
I would ONLY work rotating shift work
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 34

Author Topic: Rotating Shift Work  (Read 38115 times)

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Offline hamsamich

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Rotating Shift Work
« on: Aug 02, 2007, 12:54 »
According to evidence derived from many studies, rotating shift work ain't good for you (lower life expetancy, lower quality of life).  What do you think?  I don't like it, but would work it if I had to or if the pay was insanely high. Some people like it because of the extended packets of time off built in to the schedule (like a 7 off).

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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #1 on: Aug 02, 2007, 08:14 »
7/0ff 0/0n start there and negotiate.

Offline SloGlo

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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #2 on: Aug 03, 2007, 08:01 »
strait shifts.  usta be i'd take da knight shifts fer da differential pay.  butt twoday i'd rather have da evenings phree.
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Offline HydroDave63

Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #3 on: Aug 03, 2007, 08:43 »
According to evidence derived from many studies, rotating shift work ain't good for you (lower life expetancy, lower quality of life).  What do you think?  I don't like it, but would work it if I had to or if the pay was insanely high. Some people like it because of the extended packets of time off built in to the schedule (like a 7 off).

We had this very debate here recently, and schedule votes dragged on for months. Some items to consider are:

1. No matter how cool the schedule looks on paper, if you are short on staff, and the Great Machine runs 24/7, you WILL have OT on your days off, so you'll just have the unwelcome sleep pattern change with short to no warning.

2. Just because all crews have to work nights and days, there is no 11th Commandment that you MUST go from days to nights to days to nights. As long as nights and days all get covered equally, one can have X night shifts, time off , X night shifts, time off , Z days, etc. I found it amazing that at one of my sites, it was Security that was able to wrap their minds around this concept, but sadly Ops could not.

3. It also depends on the needs of the crew. Some workers with young kids like the ability to minimize vacation hours expended for the big 3 week excursion to VacationLand. Some workers find anything more than 3 days off is an invitation for the spouse to nag them into household chores, stupid quarrels,yard work etc. Like why didnt she mow the yard while I was on nights?!? But I digress...

4. When negotiating/strongarming schedules, it is best to have current homework available. If you think you can sell the Circadian Rhythm concept of minimzing sleep disruptions, reduced insulin swings and digestive problems to a crew of workers washing down half a cold pizza with a box of Red Bull, good luck! Most workers are thinking of the big hollow plastic carrot of days off, not the Louisville Slugger stick of extended shifts on, and a 24 hour swap to days...

Offline Already Gone

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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #4 on: Aug 03, 2007, 11:04 »
According to evidence derived from many studies, rotating shift work ain't good for you (lower life expetancy, lower quality of life).  What do you think?  I don't like it, but would work it if I had to or if the pay was insanely high. Some people like it because of the extended packets of time off built in to the schedule (like a 7 off).

I remember my next-door neighbor being elated that he was going onto a rotating shift at Kodak.  I held my tongue about the fact that all those "extended periods of time off" were a lot less exciting than having actual weekends off.

In all the years I rotated as a house tech., I had far more Wednesdays off than any other day.  Well, actually my wife and I had a standing agreement that she could schedule things for me; like dentist appointments, parent-teacher meetings, ... etc.  All she had to do was start at Wednesday between 8 a.m. and noon and I would be available almost every time.  I was either on a night shift (11pm - 7am), an afternoon shift (3 - 11pm), or I had the day off.  Only one Wednesday in five was I actually working during those hours.

Now, when your boss tells you about all those "7 off's", ask him if you can get them starting Friday at 3pm and ending the next Saturday at 7am.  The answer will be "no".  The best case will be if the weekend is in the middle of the 7-off, but you ain't getting that either.  Rotating shifts are based on the premise that you only get one weekend off out of every four - and not all of that one either.  One week you'll work Saturday, another week it is Sunday, and yet another week you will work both.  On the week that you get Saturday and Sunday off, you will probably have to work Friday or afternoon or Sunday night shift (which will look like a Monday shift on the schedule, but will ruin your Sunday anyway).  Seven off, or four off, or whatever, are all inflated numbers.  While the normal weekend gives a person 64 hours away from the job, the shift worker's weekend in no more than 48 or 56 hours at the most.

You can get more continuous hours off for weekends if you work 12-hour shifts.  Those people who swear that longer shifts are less productive and more likely to cause accidents or injury are all for 12's if they are paying straight-time for them.  Apparently, it is not the extended hours, or even ten-day stretches without a day off, that cause these problems.  It seems that it is the overtime premium pay which is the root cause of people turning the wrong valve or breaking their fingers.  Try this: the next time extended work hours come up as a topic of discussion, notice how management shuts up about productivity, or injuries, or the NRC rules if you offer to work Sundays or 12's for straight time.

The afternoon shift means that you will see your kids for a minute before they go to school.  You'll be gone to work when they come home, and they'll be in bed when you get home. 

If you need a weekend day for a special event - it's going to cost you a vacation day.  The boss will never let you swap a shift if it results in the other guy getting OT on your straight-time Sunday.  So, you'll burn a V-day and the other guy will get doubletime anyway.  Do this enough times and the boss will no longer approve vacation days on weekends.  So, you'll have to use sick days to go to your cousin's wedding or your family reunion.  So much for using those days off to save up vacation.  When you take your real vacation - if you try taking that 3-week excursion to VacationLand - you had better hope that the boss was kind enough to schedule you for that 7 off at the right time.  If you are not the first person to put in your vacation request, you could be stuck taking your two weeks vacation, combined with your 7 off, in November.  The value of these long periods between shifts is greatly diminished by the fact that your kids will be in school for most of the days that you are getting in exchange for your weekend days.

The world does not accomodate the shift worker by having things like weddings, school events, football games, soccer games, Little League games, dance recitals, band concerts,  picnics or poker runs on Wednesday morning.  You can get in some golf if you are willing to plod along behind the retired folks who are in no hurry at all.  You can get your banking done - if you are the last person on earth who actually needs to go to the bank during business hours for that - but again, you'll have to wait in line behind all the retired people who are not pressed for time in the least.  You can mow your lawn in the high-noon sun instead of the cooler air of the evening.

You can get in line at the pharmacy - again joining a queue of retired folks - to get your Prozac filled.  But, you should opt for Paxil instead so you can keep your security clearance.  You are going to need it.  And when you are at the end of your options, can't sleep anymore when you are supposed to sleep, and can't stay awake at work, don't try to get any help from the company who put you on the shift schedule that caused it.  They, who work 7am - 3:30pm M-F, will not listen to you telling them that it is the job that is causing it.  They, who haven't missed a family function, Sunday church services, or an NFL game in 25 years will not be affected in the slightest by the family pessure that is piling on top of the insomnia, weight-gain, ulcers, and anxiety.

If, and only if, you have no children, no wife, and no outside interests, rotating shifts might be for you - as long as your brain and stomach can handle it.

The only exception I know of is for firefighters.  The ones I know work a schedule of four ten-hour days, and three 14-hour nights with short turn -around long gaps between.  The key to this is that they "unoficially" come in two hours early on nights so the day shift can leave after eight, and they can sleep on night shifts unless they have an alarm.
The neighbor lasted about three months.  He was on disability leave and they finally gave him back his regular hours.  He was lucky.
« Last Edit: Aug 03, 2007, 11:24 by BeerCourt »
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Offline hamsamich

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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #5 on: Aug 03, 2007, 11:19 »
wow beer, lots of stuff.  I think for single people though, there may be more benifit to the rotation.  and i have been allowed and know of people who were allowed to switch days even if it was going to cost the company OT $$$.  I enjoy skiing ONLY on weekdays, so I like to travel out West on Sunday, Saturday or Monday, then come back on Saturday or Friday.  and for shorter trips, the schedule works out very nicely. there are other things besides skiing that are way better during my weekdays off, like backpacking.  so I agree with your post, but it seems one-sided.  i haven't had the pleasure of being on a rotating shift for 7 years, and I won't go back if I don't have to, but there are silver linings.

Offline Mike_Koehler

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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #6 on: Aug 03, 2007, 12:20 »
I discovered that changes in sleep cycle are triggers for people who suffer from migraine headaches......  :'(    If you allow adequate time to roll onto a new shift it is do-able but you effectively ruin your days off doing it........ We used to have a DuPont 12's schedule that was better than rotating 8's but could have been even better still if they had kept you on 1 shift for 28 days then rotated you rather than rotating every 3-4 days......

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Offline SloGlo

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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #7 on: Aug 03, 2007, 02:15 »
beercourt.... wattcha trieen two say?  eye hieght it wan ya mince yer werds.
quando omni flunkus moritati

dubble eye, dubble yew, dubble aye!

dew the best ya kin, wit watt ya have, ware yinze are!

Offline Nutty Neutron

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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #8 on: Aug 04, 2007, 01:36 »
I have been on a 12 hour rotating shift cycle now for 2 years and Hate it!  I would rather have straight nights/ days for a month at a time and a week off to change schedules.  I was more alert,more productive, happier, and felt my best during a 10 week outage when I worked the night shift all 10 weeks.  It was never dark at work and my body was unaware that it was "night".  Using blackout curtains in the bedroom solved the day sleeping problem.  The rotating shift is an accident waiting to happen.  You get more quality work out of a well rested person who feels good.  This well rested person also will make less errors that could result in bad things.  If I had a choice, I would like to try a 8 hour shift that rolled forward over the 12 hour shift.

I am now on my 7 day off and am already getting preped for night shift 6 days from now.  It is 1:30 AM and would rather cycle on the 1800- 0600 schedule in small steps than all at once. 
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Offline mooredee13

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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #9 on: Aug 04, 2007, 10:11 »
I discovered that changes in sleep cycle are triggers for people who suffer from migraine headaches...... 

Yeah, I found this out the hard way.

I re-married over 3 years ago and went back to nights last year to get away from certain managers/PhDs, etc...for awhile.

Not long after I went on nights the frequency that my wife had migraines increased significantly, thus triggering a frequent recurring pain in my lower backside for the 9 months I was on nights.

Dave

Offline Already Gone

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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #10 on: Aug 04, 2007, 12:15 »
wow beer, lots of stuff.  I think for single people though, there may be more benifit to the rotation.  and i have been allowed and know of people who were allowed to switch days even if it was going to cost the company OT $$$.  I enjoy skiing ONLY on weekdays, so I like to travel out West on Sunday, Saturday or Monday, then come back on Saturday or Friday.  and for shorter trips, the schedule works out very nicely. there are other things besides skiing that are way better during my weekdays off, like backpacking.  so I agree with your post, but it seems one-sided.  i haven't had the pleasure of being on a rotating shift for 7 years, and I won't go back if I don't have to, but there are silver linings.

You're kinda proving my point.  You are single, and the activities which you describe as being better on weekdays are two that are solitary pursuits.  If you get married, you'll have one P.O.'d wife if you do all your skiing without her because she works days and you never have weekends to go skiing with her.  Marry someone who does not like skiing.  (Of course, that is bad marital advice.  You should ideally marry someone with whom you share your interests.)  Even with the advantages of empty ski slopes and mountain trails, you still say that you don't like the rotating shifts and need further inducement to work them.

If my post seems one-sided, it is because there is only one side to rotating shifts  -- the bad side.  My original reply was intended to expose that "silver lining" as the thin electroplate, covered in tarnish, that it really is.  Add up all the positives about rotating shifts and they still come out negative.  Society functions on the basic assumption that most people work during the day, sleep at night, and party in the evenings and weekends.  That assumption is valid because it is true.  If you are to participate in that society at any level, be it a family, a social organization, a church or synagogue, or your community, you need to be there when they are there.  Otherwise, you are going to miss out on a lot of things that seemed unimportant until you couldn't do them.  That can NOT result in a happy life.

We Americans should take some examples from the Mediterranean culture.  They live longer, healthier, and happier lives.
WE eat to stay alive, and live to work.
THEY work to make a living, and live to eat.
They eat like kings, party like there is no tomorrow, have lower rates of heart disease and obesity and die of old age.
We eat Subway sandwiches and hot dogs, drink heavily in our living rooms and bars, and die at 50 from blocked coronary arteries.
There is only so much of your life that you can sacrifice for any job.  No paycheck is worth killing yourself - even if it takes decades to die from it.

I spend lots of hours at work too.  But they are now all one one shift or the other.  I don't rotate anymore, and I can sleep now.  I don't have to take medicine to keep from hating life anymore.  If I seem passionate about this subject, it is because rotating shifts did more to try to kill me than the 200,000 Marlboro's I inhaled.  If I had to pick between getting off those shifts or quitting smoking as the healthier option, I would have to say quit smoking, but there is no way I could have quit smoking on that schedule.
« Last Edit: Aug 04, 2007, 01:12 by BeerCourt »
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Offline hamsamich

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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #11 on: Aug 04, 2007, 06:16 »
I know I'm proving your point, if you read my post it says "I agree with your post".  Overwhelmingly, I think a set shift is the way to go.  Just adding that I do see a few good points with rotating shiftwork, especially for single people. Read my post next time!!  This wasn't a "rotating shiftwork for married people only" poll.  I'm trying to look at it from other perspectives. How could there be only one side to rotating shiftwork and it be ALL bad if single people would like it better than married people?  If rotating shiftwork were truly 100% bad, then it would be just as bad for married people as single people.  Yes, I need psychological help.  I can't help but argue....   ;D

Offline TENN-1

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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #12 on: Aug 05, 2007, 12:54 »



Another view:

I am a house mouse in the Midwest, and for approximately 12 of my 17 house years (also 7 as a rent'a'tech), have been on some form of rotation - usually the 12 hour variety. It has not been an "absolute" experience either negative or positive. If you are willing to structure your family life around the rotation, the larger quality time blocks spent with the family can outweigh the smaller time blocks. I do enjoy a very strong relationship with my best friend/wife of 23 years and that is certainly a gigantic plus in the equation. In addition we have been blessed with two young men who, aside from the usual mischief, have been very easy to raise (one Eagle Scout finishing HS and one married and finished with undergraduate work). 

Based on the above, I feel we have a very happy family.

The overtime (~10-12k $$ over non-rotation) has been a plus.

The ability to deal with a more stable schedule has been a plus - doesn't change much over the course of the year.

My health does not seem to be effected much.

I am active in my community but it does take some adjustments to attend meetings and participate in all the events.

Yes, there are sleep problems swapping from nights to days on occasion.

The part about working weekends confuses me. Our 12 hour rotation has a Thursday thru Sunday axis and we work 2 weekends out of every five. In addition, when we swap from the M-W portion to the R-S portion we receive the benefit of the 7 day off stretch. That would be Thursday thru Wednesday. The 7-day happens every 5 weeks and always includes a full weekend.

It is very nice to take the 36 hour week off as vacation before the 7 day and get 14 days off in row. You can do that four times, get 8 weeks off a year and still have a few hours to burn here or there.

My injury rate has not been exemplary. I did blow out a knee, but that was while working strictly days during an outage.

However, this is the part about good schedule vs. a bad schedule:

The larger population of our department is stuck on a Very Unfriendly rotation which has them working a series of 8s, 10, and 12s, with seven nights in a row and no OT. Their life quality does seem to be lower and the primary objective to using the schedule, moving more techs to dayshift, does not seem to have materialized at all. It hurts to see your friends suffer with the problems of the bad schedule. Hopefully the new RPM will find a more suitable alternative after our fall outage.

Would be happy to send anyone a copy of the schedules for review. Just PM for the result.

See you in the fall, Hamsamich!
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Offline B.PRESGROVE

Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #13 on: Aug 05, 2007, 04:21 »
I am probably going to be the oddball  :D here, but I actually like shift work, wether rotating or straight days or nights.  Its nice to see things from both sides of the sky.  I have found a way to minimize the sleep problems for those transitioning periods, and I keep a pretty regimented diet of locusts and honey.  :-\ I was on days now for about a year and a half, and I can say that I didnt like it at all.  Maybe Im weird I dont know, but I hope that when my ops job opens up I can get back to being normal. 8)

Offline radwst

Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #14 on: Aug 05, 2007, 05:57 »
Here in East Tn, I like rotating shifts.  We work Thursday night thru Monday morning, off until Friday morning then Friday morning to Sunday night, then off until Monday night.  Work Monday night to Thursday morning, off until Monday morning.  Work Monday morning until Thursday night and then the best is the 7 day break, off until the next Thursday night and start all over.  All of these are 12 hour shifts.
Thats working 14 shifts every 28 days. 
I just don't know what to do witht the time off.

Offline B.PRESGROVE

Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #15 on: Aug 05, 2007, 10:11 »
On my long breaks we went to the beach or something fun.  I do a lot of target shootin so I enjoyed the time I could spend out and about.  Days off during the week are really nice. ;D

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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #16 on: Sep 14, 2007, 11:40 »
Is there anyone here that works a 12 hour rotation and is represented by the IBEW?

Offline Roll Tide

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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #17 on: Sep 14, 2007, 11:43 »
Is there anyone here that works a 12 hour rotation and is represented by the IBEW?

I was represented by the IBEW until last year. I am personally familiar with 12 hour rotating shift assignments for operators for two different utilities (for a total of 4 sites). What questions do you have?
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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #18 on: Sep 14, 2007, 11:51 »
we have an Ops agreement that we vote on yearly that includes a vote for schedules. To work any schedule other than rotating 8's requires 75% majority. last year 73% wanted 12's and it failed. we are being told that the International mandates the 75%.

Offline Roll Tide

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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #19 on: Sep 14, 2007, 11:56 »
The sites where I have seen it implemented, 75% was required.

I remember one particular loudmouth pointing out that our Union forefathers died to give us an 8 hour workday. I replied that more of them actually died bringing us the 5 day work-week, which had already been negotiated away for rotating 8 hour shifts (7 in a row X 3 for the rotation)! That brought a couple of fence-sitters on board; I guess they thought they would be haunted by the ghosts of the founders of the Labor movement.

I even saw one site (St. Lucie) where they voted on it by position. AUOs and NWE (a bargaining SRO) were on 8s; ROs and all shift management were on 12s.

If the site really wants it, they will sweeten the pot. Are they offering 8 hours holiday pay for holidays worked (even though you are stuck there for 12)? That could be improved. I have even seen a site where the 12s requires a "no-force" rule! If enough bargaining members won't come in to cover the shift voluntarily, a management SRO comes in to fill it!

(In case you are wondering, the no-force rule is popular in the short term but a REALLY bad idea. Never give away work! You have just convinced the company that you are not essential!)

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Offline Mike McFarlin

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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #20 on: Sep 14, 2007, 12:04 »
Either nights or days but please no more rotating shifts. Don't  know when to eat, sleep, sh*t, f*ck, or whatever. You're system is always messed up.
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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #21 on: Sep 14, 2007, 12:20 »
Thanks Roll. Wasn't sure if we were having smoke blown up our A** or what. I know that the people working on the Aggreement do not want 12's....

I've brought up the same point with working 56 hours in 7 days. Of course the hard liners say "but it is 2 seperate weeks". At least with 12's when you work 48 hours in a week, you get a premium for the extra 8 hours. All told, just the inherent extra $$ on 12's is equal to about 3% of base yearly wage. PLUS, we would get 16 extra vacation hours because we have 4 "floaters" and they are full day vacations with only 8 hours charged (get regular pay for other 4 hours).

Anyway, thanks again. I have to go lay down to get ready for my lovely 3/1 double tonight. I LOVE 8's!!

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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #22 on: Sep 14, 2007, 01:26 »
One more monetary bennie of 12's: if you are on 6 crew 8's, you have a week of "Support" built into the schedule. This gives the company enough flexibility to not have you work on your holiday for either the Support or Training weeks. That means you observe 2/6 of the holidays typically.

Due to limitations of 12's, you will probably average being holiday off less than once per year. That means more money for you.


With a built in 7 or 8 day break in the schedule, 12's are great for time away from the plant. If you take vacation adjacent to your 7 (or 8) days off, you are gone for 14 days for only 36 or 40 hours vacation charged (depending on the specifics of the schedule)!

It takes years to go on 12's most plants, but those crusty old hard-core give me 8's or death types figure out real quick which is better. Plenty of them have said they would retire today if we went back to 8's tomorrow, because they enjoy their days off so much. (Turkey Point went back to 8's, and many of them have left!)
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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #23 on: Sep 14, 2007, 02:03 »
Either nights or days but please no more rotating shifts. Don't  know when to eat, sleep, sh*t, f*ck, or whatever. You're system is always messed up.
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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #24 on: Sep 14, 2007, 06:22 »
we have an Ops agreement that we vote on yearly that includes a vote for schedules. To work any schedule other than rotating 8's requires 75% majority. last year 73% wanted 12's and it failed. we are being told that the International mandates the 75%.

The plant I'm at (IBEW) only requires a majority. Goes by department. Some departments are 5 shift, some 6 and some more than that.
« Last Edit: Sep 14, 2007, 06:23 by RangerRoy »

Offline 1way

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Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #25 on: Sep 14, 2007, 10:03 »
I try to never say never about anything, but I would have to be pretty hard up to take another rotating shift.  I did this for a year down at SRS and it was a struggle.  The week off that you got every month was really great.  The rest of the month though was rough.  All the techs I worked with couldn't wait to get a straight day shift job.  Some had been on it for many years and talked about how thier health took a turn for the worse.  I was on it for a one year contract and took a serious pay cut just to get back on a straight day shift job.  'Course people are different and there are those who would not want to be on any shift but a rotating one.  Only way to find out if it will be OK with you would be to try it.  I scoffed at the idea that a rotating shift would be a problem for me, but not any more.

Offline B.PRESGROVE

Re: Rotating Shift Work
« Reply #26 on: Nov 05, 2007, 01:52 »
 >:(  I cant wait to get back on shifts.  I LOVE IT!!!  >:(

 


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