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Injured workers: EMS industry has high rate of workplace injuries

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, emergency medical workers lose three times more work days than other employees in the general workforce. After a four-year study, NIOSH revealed that over 22,000 injured workers in this industry receive emergency room treatment each year nationwide, including in New York. The data also showed that those who are most often injured are full-time EMS workers whose experience does not exceed 10 years.

Furthermore, most injuries occur during 911 responses and are often suffered during transport and patient care. Repetitive body motions, awkward postures and excessive physical effort cause musculoskeletal injuries, with necks and backs mostly affected. Other causes for injuries include harmful substance exposure, slips, trips and falls, auto accidents and assaults.

Safety authorities recommend sufficient rest, exercise and healthy eating along with access to mental health services for EMS workers. Employers must provide the necessary personal protective equipment to prevent exposure to blood-borne pathogens. Wearing appropriate shoes could avert slip or trip-and-fall accidents, and training in emergency vehicle operation must be provided.

EMS workers in New York may suffer long-term health consequences. However, financial assistance is available through the workers' compensation insurance program. Navigating the complicated administrative and legal proceedings of the claims process can be overwhelming for injured workers. However, the support and guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney are available. Workers are typically entitled to coverage of medical expenses along with lost wages for those whose hospitalization or recuperation period prevented them from returning to work for some time.

Source: safetyandhealthmagazine.com, "EMS workers face higher occupational injury rates, NIOSH says", Accessed on Feb. 16, 2018

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