The Ergonomic Journey - ErgoFit Consulting's Blog

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WMSDs Among EMS Personnel

When I see a speeding ambulance weaving through traffic, my first thought is, “How do I get out of the way!?”  and my second thought...“I wonder what happened?” 

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers are a vital piece of our world, helping those in need and are always there in times of crisis.  When we watch the news, stories are always focused on the victims…But do you ever stop to think about the EMS workers who helped those victims? 

How many awkward postures, heavy lifts and stressful events were they involved in during one call?  How many of these bodily stressors did they endure over the course of a shift? 

Tonya P 

Written November 2017

by Tonya LaFranchi, MOST, OTR/L

ErgoFit Consulting, Inc.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

EMS workers are exposed to many situations that are strenuous on the body because they work in an unpredictable environment transferring patients, quickly loading and unloading the ambulance, working in confined spaces and carrying heavy equipment (or people). 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, EMS workers have the highest rate of injury compared to any other line of work.   emergency medical technicians and paramedics have a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) rate that is seven times that of private industry!  According to Maguire, B.J. & Smith, S., 2013, among reported injuries of EMS workers:

  • 17% resulted in more than 31 days of lost work time
  • 67% involved sprains or strains
  • back injuries were reported in 43% of the cases
  • the patient was listed as the source of the worker’s injury in 37% of the cases.

According to a four-year study by NIOSH, 22,000 EMS workers are treated in emergency rooms for work-related injuries each year.  Full time workers with less than 10 years of experience were injured most often.  The actions causing the most injuries were:

  • Body motion-excessive physical effort, awkward postures or repetitive movement
  • Exposure to harmful substances
  • Slips, trips and falls
  • Vehicle-related incidents
  • Violence/assaults

The demand for emergency workers will not decrease, but worker retention may decrease due to serious debilitating injuries that force EMS workers to leave their career.  Further research, training and job modification is needed to protect EMS workers and help them stay safe and healthy.  Several initiatives are underway in addressing this issue, and ergonomics is one piece that can help reduce risk of injury to EMS workers.

 


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© ErgoFit Consulting, Inc. and ErgoFitConsulting.com, 2001-2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s owner and/or author(s) is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author(s) and ErgoFit Consulting, Inc / ErgoFitConsulting.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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