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Assaults leading cause of injuries among law enforcement officers: NIOSH

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Washington — Law enforcement officers have a nonfatal injury rate nearly three times higher than the general workforce – with “assaults and violent acts” against them the leading cause – according to a recent NIOSH study.

Using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System – Occupational Supplement, researchers found that 669,100 law enforcement personnel were treated for injuries in U.S. emergency rooms from 2003 to 2014. Assaults and violent acts accounted for 35 percent of those injuries, with “bodily reactions and exertion from running or other repetitive motions” a distant second at 15 percent, followed by transportation incidents at 14 percent.

The rate of 635 nonfatal injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent employees was notably higher than the 213 per 100,000 for all U.S. workers. In addition, assault-related injury rates for law enforcement officers increased nearly 10 percent each year from 2003 to 2011, NIOSH states in a Feb. 12 press release.

“Studies based on evidence are an important feature of public health, and this principle extends to studying the law enforcement community and their work,” NIOSH Director John Howard said in the release. “The safety and health of both police and citizens depend on understanding how policing tactics impact officer and citizen injuries.”

The study was published online Feb. 1 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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