The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 9 (January 1, 1930)
Effect of Long Hours on Fatigue Causation
Effect of Long Hours on Fatigue Causation.
The most obvious of all factors is the unit of work. We have passed legislation for an eight-hour day, which is, at least a beginning. Many employers, with a rush of work, immediately commence overtime rates. The worker, in most cases, welcomes the opportunity to make more money. In the light of what has been written, examine the result. Longer hours mean a greater measure of fatigue, with a resultant slowing up of real work output, to say nothing of errors causing a waste of material in the shop, as well as the increased cost of such inferior labour. This is not theory, but has been substantiated by enquiries as to the output by workers where overtime is almost habitual. Wharf labourers have admitted that the overtime work is less efficient in both quantity and quality than that performed during the work-unit. This statement can be verified by entering a departmental store late on a Friday night; the attention, courtesy, and service generally fall below the usual standard, not because the assistants so will it, but because fatigue, both mental and physical, is present in a large degree.
This illustration shews the floor space measured up to give exact data as to distance; weight on adjustable table to establish relationship between weight and height (this also enables studies in motion to be made); clocks to measure time, etc. (these measure up to 1-1,000th of a second); and cells used to give current to the apparatus for experiments.
In support of the contention that shorter hours really mean a greater output, a case may be quoted from Engineering, Oct. 6th, 1916, pp. 331–332. In a factory where surgical dressings were made a number of female operatives were engaged as “winders” for yarn. The operation is one requiring considerable dexterity, and constant attention in the piecing up of broken threads. The hours of work were from 6 to 8 a.m. 8.30 to 12.30, 1.30 to 5.30, and overtime from 6 to 8 o'clock in the evening. One operative, a single woman of 32 years of age, persistently refused to work before breakfast or after 5.30, declaring that the additional rest enabled her to turn out more than if she worked the whole twelve hours. When her claim was investigated, a month's output was compared with three other first-class hands who worked twelve hours a day for two weeks, and ten hours a day for two weeks. The so-called slacker, who worked only eight hours a day, won hands down. In addition to cutting out work from 6–8 a.m. and 6–8 p.m., she also stayed away the whole of one working day and three half-days, yet her output for the period was 52,429 bobbins as against an average of 48,529 for the three first-class workers who worked full time. The best of her three competitors had an output of 51,641, for which she worked about 237 hours, as against the 160 hours worked by the shorttimer. This effectually disposes of the theoretical use of overtime to secure greater output. It does show, too, that it is inadvisable for the employee to continue to work after a certain number of hours have been put in at the job.