Workplace Accidents Are Deadlier After Lunch

Researchers at the University of Burgos (in Spain) have discovered that, at least in the construction field, workplace accidents are more severe and more likely to be fatal between 1pm and 5pm.

The hours between 1pm and 5pm accounted for 18.2% of all accidents and 29.4% of fatalities.

This “lunch effect” was first observed by Pete Kines in Denmark, who found that the greatest number of falls by construction workers through roofs (in Sweden and Denmark) occurred before 1pm (in the morning between 7am and 12:59pm), except that the largest number of falls that resulted in death took place in the afternoon (between 1pm and 3:59pm). Kines (2002) did not find alcohol to play an important role, but rather fatigue, routine, and/or time constraints.

In the study by López and colleagues (2011), over 10 million accidents of construction workers were analyzed between 1990 and 2002. They found that the largest number of accidents (57.3%) occurred between 9am and 12:59pm. Interestingly, while only 18.2% of the accidents happened around lunchtime (between 1pm and 4:59pm), those accounted for 29.4% of deaths.

Other possible causes of workplace accidents include not taking naps (recall my post about the importance of sleep) and alcohol and drug consumption.


Kines, P. (2002). Construction workers’ falls through roofs: Fatal versus serious injuries. Journal of Safety Research, 33(2), 195–208. doi: 10.1016/S0022-4375(02)00019-1

López, M. A. C., Fontaneda, I., Alcántara, O. J. G., & Ritzel, D. O. (2011). The special severity of occupational accidents in the afternoon: “The lunch effect”. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 43(3), 1104-1116. doi:10.1016/j.aap.2010.12.019

Plataforma SINC (2011, June 30). Workplace accidents are worse after lunch, Spanish study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 30, 2011, from­ /releases/2011/06/110630073342.htm