A Profile of Injuries Sustained by Firefighters: A Critical Review

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Firefighters, along with other tactical personnel, are at a high risk of work-related physical injury above that of the private sector. The aim of this critical narrative review was to identify, critically appraise and synthesise key findings from recent literature investigating firefighting musculoskeletal injuries to inform injury reduction programs. The methodological approach (search terms, databases, etc.) was registered with PROSPERO and reported following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Study quality was assessed using the Downs and Black checklist with scores graded according to the Kennelly grading system. Levels of evidence were ranked according to the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. Of the 8231 studies identified, 17 met the criteria for inclusion. The methodological quality of the studies was 'fair' with a level of evidence of III-2. Reported injury rates ranged from 9% to 74% with the lower extremities and back the leading aggregated bodily sites of injury. Sprains and strains were the leading nature of musculoskeletal injury, often caused by slips, trips and falls, although muscle bending, lifting and squatting or muscle stressing were also prevalent. This review may inform injury reduction strategies and given that injuries reported in firefighters are similar to those of other tactical populations, safety processes to mitigate injuries may be of benefit across the tactical spectrum.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3931
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2019


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