Study: Night shift work increases injury risk for law enforcement

Law enforcement officers who work on the night shift may have a greater risk for injury than those who work the day or afternoon shifts.

Most people in Pennsylvania, and elsewhere, know that working in law enforcement is a dangerous profession. According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, there were 117 law enforcement agents killed in the line of duty in 2014, and many more were injured. This not only puts a strain on the injured officers and their families, but also on their fellow officers and departments. While many dangers in this profession are inherent, a recent study found that the shift authorities work also contributes to their injury risk.

Common occupational hazards

Law enforcement agents perform a range of duties, including keeping the peace, investigating crimes, and responding to distress and accident calls. Consequently, they face numerous dangers, which may lead to them developing occupational diseases or suffering work-related injuries. Some of the most common hazards law enforcement officers face on the job include the following:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Attacks and assaults
  • Exposure to infectious or contagious diseases
  • Exposure to chemical or biological hazards
  • Repetitive stress injuries

Additionally, those who work in this field may also develop emotional or mental conditions due to traumas or psychological stresses that they experience while on the job. As a result of the occupational injuries, illnesses and other conditions law enforcement agents may suffer as a result of these hazards, they are generally entitled to workers' compensation benefits.

Study examines link between shift and injury risk

Researchers from the University at Buffalo sought to examine the link between law enforcement officers' daily shift schedules and their risk for injuries. To do this, they studied the occurrence and length of injury leaves for 419 agents employed with the City of Buffalo Police Department between 1994 and 2009, according to ScienceDaily. The researchers examined the work records for participants who worked predominately on daytime, afternoon and nighttime shifts. They also took into account the officers' age and gender differences.

Officers have greater injury risk on the night shift

Based on the study's findings, law enforcement officers working the night shift, between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m., are three times more likely to be injured on the job than those who work the day shift. Furthermore, ScienceDaily reported that those on the night shift were 2.2 times more likely to suffer occupational injuries than officers who work the afternoon shift.

The differences in the risk authorities face based on their shift may be attributed to a number of factors. These contributors may include an increased number of calls and activity during the night shift hours. Additionally, law enforcement officers who work during the late night hours may suffer from fatigue-related impairments.

Seeking legal guidance

Regardless of the hours that they work, law enforcement agents in Pennsylvania who are injured in the line of duty are generally entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits. Often, injured officers rely on these types of benefits to help support themselves, and their families, as they recover. However, the process of obtaining these benefits is not always straightforward. Therefore, law enforcement officers who have suffered work-related injuries may consider obtaining legal representation to help guide them through the claims process.