By Kirk Fechter, Garrison Safety Officer

Safety on the Fly Health Promotion -- Risks for Accidents (Part 5)

A great example of the relation between safety and health is accident experience after daylight savings time is in effect.


A study in 2001, “Fatal accidents following changes in daylight savings time: The American experience"  by Jason Varughesea and Richard P. Allen, is relevant now before we return to Eastern Standard Time on Nov. 1, 2020.


Everyone has different sleep needs based on age, physical condition, quality and recent duration of sleep.  Some people have had sleep studies and have begun using a CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure) machine to reduce sleep apnea – moments where we stop breathing. This helps sleep quality.


The study found, “There was a significant increase in accidents for the Monday immediately following the spring shift to DST (t=1.92, P=0.034). There was also a significant increase in number of accidents on the Sunday of the fall shift from DST (P<0.002). No significant changes were observed for the other days. A significant negative correlation with the year was found between the number of accidents on the Saturdays and Sundays but not Mondays.”


“The sleep deprivation on the Monday following shift to DST in the spring results in a small increase in fatal accidents. The behavioral adaptation anticipating the longer day on Sunday of the shift from DST in the fall leads to an increased number of accidents suggesting an increase in late night (early Sunday morning) driving when traffic related fatalities are high, possibly related to alcohol consumption and driving while sleepy. Public health educators should probably consider issuing warnings both about the effects of sleep loss in the spring shift and possible behaviors such as staying out later, particularly when consuming alcohol in the fall shift. Sleep clinicians should be aware that health consequences from forced changes in the circadian patterns resulting from DST come not only from physiological adjustments but also from behavioral responses to forced circadian changes.”


So make note of the increased risk of accidents from the change of time on Nov. 1, 2020.

On another safety matter related to health issues concerns oral health.


The relation of Oral Health and general health is strong. I had an infection in my mouth which was causing my entire body to be run down. My dentist gave me an anti-biotic and it had a positive impact on my overall health. The reason dentists encourage brushing and flossing teeth goes beyond the obvious benefit to teeth – it is crucial for the health of gums – again a possible place of infection and poor health. So when you talk with your doctor, update him on your dental care.


Good oral health can be a positive to exercising safe lifestyles.


A reminder: Cold weather will be here. Don’t forget to keep yourself warm and, on the job, check you subordinates!