Every day public safety workers such as law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics and prison guards face different on-the-job challenges. Some of these challenges put their lives at risk.
Most people understand that public safety workers face severe injuries from fires and attacks, but they may not be aware of certain types of other injuries – ones that may get overlooked.
Heart problems and PTSD
Here are some of the overlooked physical and mental health hazards faced by public safety workers:
- Respiratory and heart problems: Firefighters may inhale smoke and chemicals that may severely damage their lungs and esophagus. Working conditions that may include tremendous physical exertion, excessive stress and tension may lead to heart issues.
- Musculoskeletal injuries: A great amount of physical work may gradually or abruptly lead to injuries to head, neck, back and shoulders. Falls from ladders, trauma from a motor vehicle collision, lifting people onto stretchers and into ambulances along with physical altercations with criminal suspects are scenarios in which such injuries may happen.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): What happens on the job often leaves an indelible impression on public safety workers, who may carry around this pressure and stress for a long time. These are jobs that can drastically affect a person’s mental health.
- Infections and diseases from bloodborne pathogens: The COVID-19 virus has had many public safety workers concerned in the past two years. But these workers have faced exposure to infections and diseases for quite some time. Blood, saliva and other bodily fluids from patients and suspects may contain pathogens that include HIV and hepatitis.
Public safety workers have a firm awareness of these dangers. Proper protection, training and understanding from others are essential.
Risks that may shorten their careers
The job-related hazards of public safety workers just may shorten their careers. They face many hazards and risks that the typical worker has no idea exist. Many of these overlooked dangers may lead to extreme health consequences.