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Injury risk is greater for officers on the night shift, study says

Working in law enforcement is an inherently dangerous profession, but one study found those who work overnight may have an increased injury risk.

Working in law enforcement is an inherently dangerous profession for people in Wisconsin, and elsewhere. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 27,600 police and sheriff's patrol officers were injured on the job in 2014 alone. While all workers in this field may be at risk for work-related injuries or occupational diseases, one study found that the danger may be enhanced for those who work on the night shift.

Common occupational dangers for law enforcement officers

Law enforcement officers perform a range of duties including investigating crimes, responding to accident and distress calls, and keeping the peace. As a result of the work they perform and the environment they work in, law enforcement agents face a number of hazards on the job. These include the following:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Assaults or attacks
  • Exposure to infectious or contagious diseases
  • Exposure to chemical or biological hazards
  • Psychological and emotional stresses following traumatic incidents

As a result of these dangers, those who work in law enforcement may sustain work-related injuries or occupational diseases. People in this field frequently suffer an array of injuries and illnesses such as cuts, broken bones, back problems, herniated discs, knee replacements,whiplash, gunshot wounds and post-traumatic stress disorder. In most cases, law enforcement officers who sustain such injuries are entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits.

Examining the link between hours worked and injury risks

Researchers from the University at Buffalo conducted a study to determine if there is a link between the hours that law enforcement officers work and their injury risk. To this end, they look at the records for 419 officers with the Buffalo Police Department. The researchers examined the occurrence and duration of injury leaves as compared with the shifts that law enforcement agents worked. The shifts were divided into daytime, afternoon and nighttime.

Injury risk is greater for law enforcement officers on the night shift

Based on the study's findings, law enforcement officers who work on the night shift, between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m., have an increased risk of sustaining occupational injuries. ScienceDaily reports that their risk is 2.2 times greater for those on the night shift than it is for those who work the afternoon shift, from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. The injury risk increases to three times greater from the night shift to the daytime shift.

The differences in law enforcement officers' injury risk may be attributed to several factors. For instance, those who work the night shift may see increased activity and get more calls. Further, they may be more likely to sustain injuries due to fatigue-related impairments.

Seeking legal counsel

Regardless of the shift, Wisconsin law enforcement officers are working, they are typically entitled to workers' compensation if they are injured on the job. However, the process of obtaining these much needed benefits is not always straightforward. In order to ensure their rights are protected and they receive the benefits to which they are entitled, law enforcement officers who have sustained occupational injuries may benefit from obtaining legal representation. A lawyer may explain their rights and guide them through the claims process.

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