Draft new safe working hours standards for Doctors in Training – we want your feedback


In an important step towards safer working hours for doctors in training, the Ministry of Health have released draft night shift standards. The Union has been invited to provide feedback on these standards and we want to know whether they will work for you.

In summary they propose

  • no more than 4 nights
  • 24 hours off after 2 nights
  • 48 hours off after 4 nights
  • no more than 7 days in a row

Join the ASMOF Industrial team and our Doctors-in-Training Committee co-chairs on Wednesday 13/5 at 8.30pm as we review and discuss the proposed night shift guidelines. All doctors in training are welcome to come along. Once you register you will receive the Zoom link. You can register online here: asmofnightshifts.eventbrite.com.au

You can also join our discussion on the standards online on our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ASMOFDITS/

Useful resources on fatigue, impairment and shift work

From Anesthesiology  - the official journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists

From the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU):

The ACTU recommends (p16) that the maximum hours to be worked in a day or a week (7 days) should not exceed the following, other than in emergency circumstances:

  • maximum of 6 consecutive 8-hour shifts
  • maximum of 2 consecutive night shifts
  • maximum of 2 consecutive 12-hour shifts
  • maximum 12 hours overtime per week
  • maximum 12 hours work per day (including overtime) except in emergency circumstances
  • maximum 48 hours rostered work per week.

In emergency circumstances a maximum 60 hours work in one week may be necessary. It should not be worked on a regular basis or in consecutive weeks.

It also states for WHS reasons, an adequate rest period should be provided after any on-call period and employees should not be rostered on-call during minimum breaks between worked shifts (never less than 10 hours).

From The Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS)

From WorkSafe Victoria:

  • Fatigue Prevention in the Workplace - Published in June 2008, this guidance provides information on how to identify potential work-related fatigue hazards, determine work-related fatigue risks and how to control work-related fatigue hazards and risks.

From the AMWU:

  • fact sheet: Shift work and Fatigue on fatigue, working shifts and long hours. It provides information and advice on shift lengths, hours of work and more.

From Safe Work Australia:

Safe Work Australia recommends shifts be limited to 12 h including overtime, or to 8 h if they are night shifts and/or the work is demanding, monotonous, dangerous and/or safety critical.

In relation to night shift guidelines (p14) they recommend:

  restricting the number of successive night shifts (no more than 3 to 4 if possible).

  allowing for at least two full night’s sleep after the last night shift.

  avoid keeping workers on permanent night shifts.

  arrange shifts so day sleep is not restricted.

  where possible, provide at least 24 hours’ notice before night work.

  • 2017 podcast: Managing shift work and workplace fatigue
  • Guide for Managing the Risk of Fatigue at Work (November 2013) provides guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking and other duty holders on how to manage fatigue in the workplace. Originally intended to be a model Code of Practice, the document was then issued as a guide. Also Fatigue Management - A Worker's Guide.
  • A report (2016) A Comparison of Work-Related Injuries Among Shiftworkers and Non-Shiftworkers Research shows the injury rate for shift workers is higher than the injury rate for non-shift workers. The aim of this report is to determine whether the elevated risk of shift work affects all groups of shift workers or only particular groups of shift workers. This is achieved by analysing statistics from a nationally representative survey that was undertaken in 2013–14. The report also analyses the characteristics and outcomes of work-related injuries to determine whether there are significant differences between shift workers and non-shift workers.
  • Work-related fatigue and job design - a video/seminar in which two leaders in workplace fatigue examine why fatigue management is important from both a worker and a business perspective and what businesses and workers can do to manage the risks caused by fatigue in the workplace..

From SafeWork NSW

From WorkSafe WA:

From WorkCover Queensland:

From the UK's Health and Safety Executive:

From the Behaviour-Brain-Body Research Centre (BBB)
The BBB is an Australian leader in sleep and shift work research and is based at the University of South Australia.