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Daylight savings time: Consequences, including workplace injuries

Fall back, spring forward.

Most adult Americans are quite familiar with that mantra, given the twice-annual ritual of complying with daylight savings time (DST) adjustments that tweak both body clocks and official times across the country, including in Ohio.

Less familiar might be this: an actual understanding of the rationale for DST, a historical reality since World War II began nearly a century ago. Theories and anecdotal tales abound, but the central reality is that pioneers of the idea sought to lessen energy usage in the spring and summer by adding an hour of light in the evenings.

Critics of DST abound these days, noting that our energy-use patterns differ in the 21st century and that many Americans actually use more energy because of that extra hour.

They also point to this phenomenon, which likely is not considered by most people in the context of DST: The one lost hour in the morning that comes every spring has a material effect on workplace safety. Specifically, it results in a discernible upward tick in construction accidents and injuries across the country.

An in-depth study of DST concludes that on-the-job injuries attributed to body-clock disruptions are most significant where "the impacts of workplace injury due to mining and construction are most acute." The study cites West Virginia and Florida as areas where especially high rates of such injuries occur.

Moreover, researchers say that DST is an economically costly proposition overall for varied reasons (sluggish workers, the aforementioned injuries and spiked energy consumption readings).

It is estimated that DST costs the national economy more than $430 million each year.

For those many reasons, say critics, daylight savings time needs to be phased out.

Source: smartplanet, "U.S. economy lost $433,982,548 because of daylight savings time," Tuan C. Nguyen, March 13, 2013

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