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Long shifts place EMS workers at risk of injury

New York Emergency Services workers are 60 percent more likely to experience injury and illness if they work extended shifts, according to one study. The longer the shift, the more the risk increases with extended shifts starting at 12 hours. Careers in emergency services require physical strength and the ability to move patients, and workers need to remain calm in often chaotic emergency care environments.

While such job requirements are demanding as is, it is not uncommon for EMS workers to work up to 24 hours on a shift. Researchers claim that these extended hours could not only affect the workers but decrease the quality of patient care they are able to provide. The study examined 1 million shift schedules involving 4,000 EMS employees over a three-year time frame. Researchers also studied occupational records of 14 large EMS agencies.

The study found that as the EMS workers' time at work increased, the greater their likelihood of developing an injury or illness was. Those who worked shifts longer than 12 hours had a dramatic increase in injury risk. The study accounted for such intervening factors as the time of day and the familiarity of the EMS crew. Those who worked 24-hour shifts were twice as likely to sustain an injury or illness than those with eight-hour shifts or less.

Those who have sustained a workplace injury may be eligible to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits, which can include the furnishing of medical care, reimbursement of previously-incurred medical expenses and a percentage of wages lost during the recovery period. An attorney can often assist an injured worker in preparing and submitting the claim on a timely basis.

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