Police officers at higher risk of injury on night shifts

Police officer using breathalyzer

Members of law enforcement face significant challenges while on the job. According to a study from researchers at the University of Buffalo, police officers who work the night shift have an increased chance of suffering a long-term work injury. As an Illinois workers compensation attorney may know, working the night shift can bring on certain health risks in addition to safety hazards. This study demonstrates the gap between police who work certain shifts and suggests further research should be done to protect officers in Illinois and around the country.

Why it happens

Researchers used data from 419 officers over a period of 16 years to examine the length of injury leaves and how frequently they occurred. According to the study, the risk of injury resulting in a leave of more than 90 days for police officers who work the night shift is more than three times higher than those who work the day shift, and more than two times higher than those who work the afternoon shift.

The study suggests several reasons for the increase in injury, such as the following:

  • Night shifts tend to be more active.
  • In addition to more crimes, the calls tend to be more hazardous.
  • People who work the night shift often suffer from sleep disturbance.

Several studies have found that people who work the night shift tend to suffer from fatigue. The American Psychological Association reports that people who work at night are exposed to hazards such as decreased attention, sleepiness on the job and a disruption of their bodies’ metabolic processes. As an Illinois workers compensation attorney may have seen, fatigue can be particularly detrimental for police officers who often have to make quick decisions in a high-risk situation.

Other hazards police officers face

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, nearly 15,000 officers sustained injuries from an assault while on the job in 2013. In addition to an attack, members of law enforcement also encounter the risk of vehicle crashes, as many spend much of their time on the road. During a call, an officer may be exposed to chemicals or infectious disease.

Stress is also a primary hazard. Police may have stress due to the responsibility that comes with the job, experiencing threats or getting exposed to violent crime. That stress can lead to health issues and work-related injuries as well as emotional trouble. Some studies suggest that the rate of divorce and suicide tend to be higher among law enforcement than many other professions.

Researchers from the University of Buffalo study suggest that changes in workload and sleep duration may help balance out the disparity in long-term injury rates between officers working different shifts. Anyone with questions about this matter should consult with an Illinois workers compensation attorney.