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A job in law enforcement can challenge your health

If you are a police officer in California, you will have to take special care of your health because your job poses many hazards. Along with the expected physical risks as you go about your days, the demanding nature of your high-risk occupation can be harmful to your physical and mental health. If you do not take care, you could develop any of the many ailments, illnesses and diseases known to affect those working in criminal justice or criminology.

Researchers say studies show that police work is among the occupations that are more susceptible to a variety of health problems than workers in most other professions are. They say the toll of stress and shift work makes law enforcement workers more vulnerable.

Shift work

Sleep is a biological need, similar to water and food, that is crucial for maintaining overall health. A lack of sleep will cause tiredness and fatigue, which will compromise your immune system and increase your risk for psychological, mental and physical ailments. Your internal biological clock is programmed to sleep when it is dark and work when it is light outside. Shift work requires the opposite, and the following could be the consequences:

  • Tiredness and fatigue during work hours
  • Workplace injuries due to impaired concentration and decision-making abilities
  • Trouble falling asleep in the daytime
  • Interrupted sleep by others in the household
  • Hindrance of deep sleep by ambient daytime noises
  • Mood swings
  • Decreased mental faculties
  • Depression
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease

Shift work can also put a strain on family life and personal relationships because of the limited time available to spend with loved ones.

The demands of stress

Every day will burden you with high demands as a police officer, which will bring about enormous amounts of psychological and physical stress in the following ways:

  • Unpleasant encounters with the public
  • Having to deliver bad news
  • Dealing with scenes of dismemberment and death
  • Arguments with aggressive traffic violators
  • Dealing with angry, upset, depressed or miserable individuals
  • Uncertainty of what the next call will bring
  • Chances of having your life threatened
  • The possible need to take someone's life

These are but some of the daily stressors with which you have to cope, explaining why researchers have found links between stress and shift work among police officers and sleeplessness, obesity and suicide. They also confirmed increased chances of high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, resistance to insulin, brain cancer and Hodgkin's lymphoma. Post-traumatic stress syndrome is also common among police officers, leading to a high suicide rate in this field of employment.

Know your rights

As an employee in a high-risk job in California, you are eligible for compensation for any medical expenses you have as the result of physical or psychological harm caused by your occupation. Dealing with the administrative and legal proceedings of workers' compensation benefits claims can be challenging under the circumstances. This is where the skills of an experienced attorney can be invaluable. Legal counsel can help throughout the claims process to obtain applicable benefits.

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