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Long shifts could lead to more injuries for EMS workers

A new study shows that emergency services employees who work overtime shifts in Minnesota and nationwide are around 60 percent more likely to become injured or ill than those who work 12 hours or less. Researchers found that the risk increases the longer the shift goes on. The study was published in a peer-reviewed journal on Sept. 14.

In order to understand the impact long shifts can have on EMS employees, researchers examined 1 million work schedules submitted by 4,000 workers over a three-year period. They also studied the occupational health records for 14 major EMS agencies across the United States. They discovered that shifts longer than 12 hours were associated with a 50 percent increase in injuries when compared to standard shifts. They also found that shifts of up to 24 hours doubled the risk of injury or illness for workers when compared to shifts lasting eight hours or less.

EMS workers are expected to do physically demanding work and remain clear-headed under conditions that are often intense and chaotic. The authors of the study said that their findings do not prove that extended shifts cause injuries and illness, but they noted there is a clear trend. They said that more research is required.

Minnesota EMS employees who suffer workplace injuries are in most cases eligible to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits pay for medical expenses and a portion of an employee's salary while they recover from an injury. Some people find it helpful to consult with an attorney as they prepare their claim to ensure it is properly completed and submitted on time.

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