Physiological Demands of Common Occupational Tasks among Australian Police Offcers: A Descriptive Analysis

Amy Decker, Ben Hinton, Jay Dawes, Robert Lockie, Rob Marc Orr

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Abstract

Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate the physiological demands placed on Australian police officers carrying out common operational tasks.
Methods: Forty participants (n = 40) from an Australian police force (mean age = 33.58 ± 7.78 years, mean height = 177.70 ± 7.28 cm, mean weight = 85.68 ± 14.52 kg, mean years of service:
6.74 ± 6.29 years) were recruited through preidentifed local area commands. Spanning nine police stations from the same Australian state, volunteers wore monitoring devices to collect physiological
measures (heart rate, respiratory rate, and skin temperature) throughout the course of four consecutive shifts (two day shifts and two night shifts). Descriptive data were recorded and analyzed by task
and changes in physiological measures.
Results: Of the 345 duty calls attended by participants, the four most commonly reported tasks were as follows: ‘check bona fdes’ (n = 76; 22%), ‘driving urgently’ (n = 45; 13%), ‘attending a domestic
incident’ (n = 37; 10%), and ‘attending a concern for welfare’ (n = 30; 8%). Mean percentages of maximum heart rates (%HRmax) were considered of very light exercise intensity and ranged from 47.11 (±
7.18) to 50.15 (± 9.35) % for checking bona fdes through to driving urgently respectively. Fifteen percent of tasks attended had offcers exceed 100 %HRmax (near maximal to maximal exercise intensity).
Mean skin temperatures varied little (36.02–36.27°C) between tasks, while mean respiratory rates were lowest when attending a domestic incident and highest when driving urgently (22.56 ± 3.83 and
24.72 ± 6.12 breaths/min, respectively).
Conclusion: Police offcers experienced numerous physiological challenges ranging from an intensity of very light exercise through to near maximal and maximal exercise throughout their working
day with occasions where their heart rates exceeded 100 %HRmax. These findings highlight the physiological stress associated with common occupational policing tasks, highlighting the importance of
cardiovascular health in police offcers and the need for cardiovascular monitoring and conditioning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)960-966
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Work Exposures and Health
Volume66
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2022

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