An effort to beef up safety at U.S. nuclear power plants by requiring guards to work 12-hour shifts instead of eight may be backfiring: The guards, who have been working the longer shifts since Sept. 11, 2001, report that they are tired, prone to error, and, well, in a bad mood. The long hours have led some to lash out at coworkers, fail to lock doors, leave keys or weapons unsecured, forget steps in inspection processes, or otherwise compromise plant security. Some guards who have complained about the working conditions have been threatened with the loss of their jobs or sent for psychiatric evaluations. The upshot, say industry regulators and observers, is that there are more guards on duty, but the guards are less effective. Even top officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have begun to express concern — but industry reps blame the commission itself for failing to establish clear security standards and regulations.