NIOSH conducts EMS injury risk management study

EMS at higher injury risk than all other U.S. professions


By EMS1 Staff 

WASHINGTON D.C. — NIOSH researchers conducted a federal risk management study that showed EMTs and paramedics are at a higher risk of injury than all other professions in the U.S.

According to NECN, NIOSH study revealed that roughly nine out of 100 EMTs and paramedics sustain an occupational injury compared to two out of 100 workers in other professions.

First responders are more prone to back injuries or sprains because of the amount of bending, kneeling and lifting required on the job. (Photo/U.S. Navy)
First responders are more prone to back injuries or sprains because of the amount of bending, kneeling and lifting required on the job. (Photo/U.S. Navy)

"The big thing they're being hurt from is bodily motion injuries, and that's mostly due to lifting patients," Audrey Reichard, a NIOSH epidemiologist, said.

First responders are more prone to back injuries or sprains because of the amount of bending, kneeling and lifting required on the job. The second highest form of treatment for first responders is exposure to harmful substances which accounts for 27% of injuries.

In addition, assaults are reported 22 times higher for EMS personnel than for workers in other professions.

"One of the findings is that it happens way more frequently than is generally recognized," Brian Maguire, a Connecticut epidemiologist and former New York City paramedic, said, "and the vast majority of cases go unreported. So, the EMS person is assaulted, and then there's no report or there's no follow-up. And that's for a variety of reasons. Sometimes people think that this is part of their job, and there may be organizational or cultural pressure to just accept it and not report it."

Maguire said there is not enough research on ways to reduce EMS workplace injuries.

"That's one of the big problems, especially when it comes to assaults," he said, "because ... EMS agencies with the best of intentions are implementing what seems like reasonable attempts to reduce risk for their personnel, but they're doing it without any idea of what actually works because there's nothing that's been documented to actually reduce risks. It's a big problem."

 

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