Injuries suffered by an Australian State Police Force

Michael Stierli, Rob Marc Orr, Rodney R Pope

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting AbstractResearchpeer-review


Police work, due to its unpredictability and varied nature, exposes law enforcement officers to what could be perceived as a high risk of injury when compared to other workers. Police work is an inherently a complex job, as officers participate in a range of physically challenging and stressful activities, including: restraining non-compliant persons, performing manual handling of suspects and objects, running or moving varied distances and performing effective defensive tactics, all while wearing a fully equipped police uniform. Given this unpredictable work environment, police officers are at a high risk of experiencing a physical injury. The aim of this study was to retrospectively analyse injury data from a 7-year period since the introduction of the Australian Police Forces’ current online reporting database. A total of 65,579 records of incidents were provided for analysis. Of these, 86% (n = 56,511) were reported as an injury, with 14% (n = 9068) being recorded as a ‘near miss’. ‘General duties’ or ‘front line policing’ was the duty type during which officers were most likely to be injured, accounting for 49.7% (28067) of injuries. The three leading causes of injury were physical assault (16.5%: n = 9347), other/unspecified (15%: n = 8436) and slips, trips and falls (14%: n = 7941. The knee (8.9%: n = 5024) and lower back (8.4%: n = 4761) were the two bodily sites with the highest reported injuries. The majority of injuries (96%: n = 54,198) occurred in the workplace, with tactical options involved in 74% (41,764) of instances. The average hours worked in the last 7 days prior to incident was 29.8 (±14.8) h and the average hours worked during the shift prior to the reported injury was 6.1 (±4.2) h. The body sites and mechanisms (like slips, trips and falls) of injuries are similar to those of military populations, however police officers do face unique challenges (like a high number of physical assault and shift work). While the environment in which police officers work cannot often be changed, the officer's themselves can be changed. With physical assault being the leading cause of injury for officers, improved defensive tactics training and the continued use and development of less than lethal options for subduing offenders should improve injury rates. Likewise, physical conditioning to reduce the potential for slips, trips and falls may be of benefit.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)s91
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Issue numbers2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Event4th International Congress on Soldiers’ Physical Performance - Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 28 Nov 20171 Dec 2017
Conference number: 4th (ICSPP Abstracts in the JSAMS (2017), Vol. 20, suppl. 2)


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