The influence of light armour vests on police officer’s perception and performance of occupational tasks

Ben Schram, Rob Marc Orr, Rodney R Pope

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterResearchpeer-review

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Background: The use of individual light armour vests (ILAVs) to protect police officers from light caliber weapons, stabbing and trauma is increasing. The additional load associated with armour vests is known to reduce operational capability, cause discomfort and can lead to injury. Prior to the design of any return to work rehabilitation program the effects of ILAVs on the comfort and operational capability of an injured officer need to be understood.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate police officer’s perceptions and performance of occupational tasks while wearing three different types of ILAVs (ILAV A, B or C) when compared to their normal station wear.
Methods: A prospective, repeated measures study was performed with each officer (n=11) wearing each of three different types of ILAV or normal station wear for a day while performing simulated occupational tasks. These tasks included a victim drag, patrol car exit and sprint and marksmanship shoot. Officers rated their perceptions of the effects of each ILAV on a Visual Analogue Scale (-10 to +10) and rated their level of exertion on a Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale (0-10) when performing each task. Time to complete the victim drag and car exit and 20m sprint were recorded in seconds, while the marksmanship shoot was scored out of 100.
Results: Officers perceived that less effort was required to complete the victim drag while wearing ILAV B (RPE=3.6) when compared to ILAV A (RPE=4.7), ILAV C (RPE=4.0) or station wear (RPE=3.8). Likewise, less impact on performance was perceived in ILAV B (VAS=+0.26) while completing the car exit and sprint than ILAV A (VAS=-3.58), ILAV C (VAS=-0.55) or station wear (VAS=-0.85). Officers perceived a positive effect of ILAV B (VAS=+2.7) and station wear (VAS=+1.4) and a negative effect of ILAV A (VAS=-2.1) and ILAV C (VAS-1.7) in the marksmanship shoot. There were no significant differences in the results of the occupational tasks across ILAV conditions, however there was less variability in the marksmanship task with ILAV B.
Conclusion: Officers perceived that ILAV B had positive effects on task performance, however none of the ILAVs used were heavy enough to significantly affect task performance.
Implications: Lighter, purpose-designed body armour systems used in policing are not heavy enough to significantly affect occupational task performance, however different types are perceived differently by the user. Physiotherapists developing return to work programs should consider having police officers wear their ILAVs as part of their work hardening program in order to gain confidence and re-familiarity with their requirement to wear ILAV.
Keywords: personal protective equipment, load, law enforcement, occupational rehabilitation, return-to-work.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2019
EventWorld Confederation for Physical Therapy Congress 2019: WCPT 2019 - Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
Duration: 10 May 201913 May 2019


ConferenceWorld Confederation for Physical Therapy Congress 2019
Abbreviated titleWCPT2019
Internet address


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