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24-hour work shifts double the risk of EMS worker injuries

When an emergency worker responds to a call in North Carolina, he or she might have been on duty for nearly 24 hours. Shifts of this length are common among emergency services employees, and a study published in a peer-reviewed journal found that longer shifts correlated with an increase in injuries and illnesses among workers.

Researchers analyzed three years of data pulled from !million shift schedules that reflected the work hours of 4,000 employees. After cross-referencing the shift information with 950 occupational health reports, shifts that lasted for 24 hours doubled the risk of an employee experiencing an injury or illness when compared to shifts of eight or fewer hours.

Although the study did not measure the quality of care, its authors suggested that work performance might also be impacted by the long hours. The emergency services enviroment places extreme demands on its workers. They physically exert themselves, often lifting people, and they must make vital decisions about medical care in demanding situations.

A person who is hurt in a workplace accident or who is otherwise injured on the job may be eligible to file a claim for benefits under the employer's workers' compensation insurance policy. In general, no negligence on anyone's part needs to be demonstrated for the worker to be entitled to coverage. To obtain benefits, however, the worker must properly and promptly report an injury. An attorney could help a worker document the workplace injury and apply for benefits within the applicable deadline. With the assistance of an attorney, the worker might also learn more about the benefits that are available, as this information is not always forthcoming from the insurance company or employer.

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