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Long shifts wearing down EMS workers

Pennsylvania paramedics may be interested in a recent study done on emergency service workers. Researchers found that EMS employees were 60 percent more likely to suffer an illness or injury when they worked more than 12 hours at a time. Beyond that, the longer the shift, the greater amount of risk associated with EMS workers performing routine tasks at the workplace.

Some of these employees are frequently required to work shifts that are 24 hours long. The study involved the review of nearly 1,000 occupational health records compiled by 14 EMS agencies. In addition, researchers examined records from 4,000 employees working one million scheduled shifts over a span of three years. The study, recently published in a peer-reviewed journal, found that the propensity for developing illnesses or injuries in this line of work increased as the length of shifts grew longer.

Researchers claim that the extended shifts could negatively affect the quality of services EMS workers provide for patients. Even when the researchers took the staff changes per shift and time of day into account, they found that employees working over 12 hours were significantly more likely to suffer an injury or illness than those scheduled for less hours. EMS employees working 24-hour shifts were twice as likely to become ill or injured than those who were only scheduled for eight hours or less.

An EMS worker who is injured on the job may be eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits, which could include a percentage of wages lost while unable to work as well as medical treatment. Many injured workers obtain the assistance of an attorney in preparing and filing the required claim.

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