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Proposals to help reduce risks to EMS workers

New Jersey paramedics have plenty to be concerned about when it comes to fatigue on the job. Because a major part of EMS work can involve vehicle operation in emergency situations, the impact can be catastrophic. The potential for serious accidents and injuries due to fatigue has inspired a collaboration between the National Association of State EMS Officials and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to develop guidelines that can reduce the likelihood of this.

The researchers examined thousands of reports and studies that indicated the level of fatigue experienced by EMS workers. Over half of all of the EMS workers documented in the reports got less than six hours of sleep on a regular basis. The same percentage reported ongoing, severe mental and physical fatigue, low quality of sleep and little recovery time between often-lengthy and stressful shifts.

An expert panel designed a series of guidelines that emphasize five major actions that can help EMS employers to systematically reduce risks to workplace safety related to fatigue. These include limiting shifts to less than 24 hours, making caffeinated beverages like coffee widely accessible, creating space and allowing time for napping during slow periods on duty, conducting surveys about sleepiness and fatigue and providing training on managing risks related to fatigue at work.In their conclusions, these experts noted that workplace fatigue spans various types of EMS jobs and work and is a widespread risk. The lack of existing standards to prevent fatigue could contribute to major accidents.

People who have been in workplace accidents may be dealing not only with severe immediate injuries but also long-term disabilities. A workers’ compensation attorney can often be of assistance in the preparation and filing of the required claim.