A new report from the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) shows the dire impact excessively long working hours have on nurses and their patients.

Released on January 11, Safe Hours Save Lives reveals a critical need to address nurse fatigue and outlines key recommendations to mitigate fatigue-related risks.

“Nurses are working more overtime than ever before, enduring shifts as long as 24 hours, as they try to meet the needs of their patients amidst a crisis-level staffing shortage,” said CFNU President Linda Silas. “How can anyone be expected to function at their best after more than 20 hours straight on the job? This is the reality for many nurses, day in and day out. The findings are clear: excessive hours of continuous work have a profound impact on nurse fatigue, with consequences that extend far beyond the workplace.”

The report, authored by researcher Dr. Heather Scott-Marshall, examined three outcomes of occupational fatigue: risks associated with patient safety, risks of workplace conflicts and lateral violence, and risks posed to nurses’ overall health and well-being.

Safe Hours Save Lives outlines key recommendations to reduce fatigue-related risks, including:

  • Stopping the practice of mandating nurses to work overtime
  • Establishing legislation and regulatory limits on consecutive work hours for nurses
  • Adopting international standards for managing risks related to fatigue, including measures such as designated napping spaces, fresh food for nurses on extended or overnight shifts, and providing nurses’ transportation home post-shift
  • Employer implementation of formal fatigue risk management programs

 “Today, nurses are pushing for fatigue to have accountability, making nurse and patient safety a fundamental obligation. We owe it to our nurses and our patients. It’s a matter of safety and respect,” added Silas.

CFNU is hosting a Facebook live webinar at 11 a.m. CST on Thursday, January 25. You can RSVP ahead of time, or simply join at the time it starts, at the event’s Facebook page.

The full report is available at the CFNU’s website.