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EMS personnel who work long shifts are at greater injury risk

Emergency medical services workers in Colorado and around the country have a significantly heightened risk of injury when they work long shifts. EMS work can be difficult, requiring people to repeatedly lift others and also to make important decisions while they are providing care for the injured.

Despite the difficulties inherent with EMS work, emergency medical personnel often are required to work extremely long shifts at work, sometimes up to 24 hours at a time. A recent study demonstrated a link between the risk of injury and the number of hours worked in a row for these workers.

The study examined injury rates and shift length for 4,000 workers with a million shifts worked over a three-year period. Health records from 14 large EMS service providers were also examined. The study found that when workers were required to work more than 12 hours in a row, their risk of injury increased by 50 percent. The risk was more than double the normal rate of injury as the shift length approached 24 hours. The researchers controlled for other factors, including such things as the time of day worked, when conducting their study and drawing their conclusions.

Workers' compensation laws are designed to provide certain benefits to eligible employees who are injured on the job. The benefits often include the provision of necessary medical care and treatment as well as a percentage of wages that are lost when the worker is recovering. The filing of a claim is time-sensitive, and many people who are in this situation obtain the assistance of an attorney during the process. Legal counsel can also provide representation at an appeal hearing should the claim be disputed or denied.

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