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Excessive Hours and Overtime

Does OSHA or the DOL regulate hours regulate the hours of an ambulance driver? The company is in Ohio.

Neither the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) nor the federal Department of Labor (DOL) have enacted regulation restricting the number of hours an employee can be required to work.

OSHA has provided guidance for employers regarding extended or unusual work hours. According to OSHA, a normal work shift is generally considered to be a work period of no more than eight consecutive hours during the day, five days a week with at least an eight-hour rest. Any shift that incorporates more continuous hours, requires more consecutive days of work, or requires work during the evening should be considered extended or unusual.

Extended or unusual work shifts may be more stressful physically, mentally, and emotionally for employees. Studies have shown (and its common sense) that extended or unusual work shifts may be more stressful, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Increased fatigue, stress, and the inability to concentrate can lead to errors in judgment, injuries, accidents, and decreased productivity.

OSHA recommends employers limit the use of extended or unusual work shifts. If such are required under the circumstances, then employers should provide additional breaks and meal periods as necessary to ensure employees are alert and can perform their job duties safely.

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) enforced by the DOL doesn’t restrict the number of hours an employee can work in a workweek. It does, however, require employers to pay overtime to non-exempt employees for any hours worked in excess of 40 in a given workweek.

Some states have adopted regulations preventing extended work hours with limited exceptions. However, we were unable to locate such law in Ohio.

Even absent state laws, employers should consider the impact of extended work shifts for employees. Ambulance Drivers have a responsibility to safely transport patients. Though extended shifts are fairly common in the industry, employers still have a responsibility to take precautionary measures to ensure Drivers and those supervising them are aware of the symptoms of the potential health effects associated with extended work hours, such as fatigue. Employers should have a plan in place to monitor employees and take action to relieve employees as necessary.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 9th, 2016 at 8:19 pm and is filed under
Labor Laws.
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