Study: Working the night shift raises injury risk for law enforcement

A study that examined the variance of injuries across law enforcement officers’ shifts found working overnight is associated with a greater injury risk.

Working in law enforcement may be dangerous for people in Maryland and elsewhere. In the course of keeping the peace and enforcing the law, those in this field may come into contact with violent or combative people, be asked to perform in a range of tasks and duties in hazardous conditions, or otherwise be placed in precarious situations. Although they may be injured on the job at any time of day, a study performed by researchers with the University at Buffalo found the risk may be greater during the nighttime hours.

Studying the variance of injuries across shifts

Generally, law enforcement officers are assigned to work in groups during different hours of the day so they may share the load and ensure the area is always protected. Researchers sought to understand the injury risk for the authorities during these different shifts. To this end, they examined the daily payroll work history data and injury leave durations for 419 law enforcement agents in Buffalo, New York. They took the included public safety officers' genders and ages into account, and applied Poisson regression models to estimate the incidence rates of long-term workplace injuries.

Injury risk varies by shift

Based on the findings of the study, which was published in the Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, working from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. is associated with a higher risk of suffering serious occupational injuries. The study showed those on the night shift have a 2.2 times greater chance of being injured on the job than officers working the afternoon shift, between 4 p.m. and 11 p.m. Law enforcement agents who work on the day shift, during the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., are three times less likely to suffer a serious injury at work than their night shift counterparts.

Injured worker benefits

Regardless of the shift they work, law enforcement officers and other public safety employees may be entitled to workers' compensation if they are injured on the job. The benefits they may receive include coverage of their medical expenses and the costs of vocational rehabilitation. Additionally, law enforcement agents who suffer occupational injuries may receive wage loss reimbursement. The type and duration of their wage loss benefits depend on the severity and effects of their injuries, among other factors.

Although they may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits, obtaining them is not always a cut and dry process for Maryland law enforcement officers. Thus, it may benefit those who have suffered harm in the line of duty to consult with an attorney. A lawyer may explain their rights and guide them through the claims process.