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Long shifts pose injury risks to EMS workers

New Jersey EMS workers may find interest in a new study that illustrates the dangers of extended shift work. Those who work more than 12 hours are 60 percent more likely to experience illness and injury than those who work 12 hours or less, according to researchers. The risk continues to increase the longer the shift is, making those who work 24 hours in one shift at double the risk of those who work eight hours or less.

Researchers note that in addition to the personal risk of injury, EMS workers who work extended shifts may also suffer in their ability to provide patient care. EMS workers frequently have to move patients and work in chaotic environments. The study considered observational data from 1 million shift schedules over the course of 3 years as well as 950 occupational health records from 14 different EMS agencies around the country.

The findings showed a significantly increased risk of injury and illness among EMS workers working extended shifts. Those who worked 12 hours or longer were far more more likely than their peers to sustain a job injury. While researchers acknowledge that these findings are correlational, not causational, they demonstrate an important trend.

EMS workers who sustain on-the-job injuries may be eligible to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits may cover a variety of medical expenses related to the workplace injury, and they can also provide a portion of the wages that are lost when the worker is unable to return to his or her job. Many injured workers find the assistance of an attorney to be helpful when preparing and submitting the claim and accompanying documentation.

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