The perceived effects and comfort of various body armour systems on police officers while performing occupational tasks

Ben Schram*, Benjamin Hinton, Rob Orr, Rodney Pope, Geoff Norris

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
196 Downloads (Pure)


Background: The nature of police work often necessitates use of Individual Light Armour Vests (ILAVs) for officer protection. Previous research has demonstrated various biomechanical and physical performance impacts of ILAVs, however, little knowledge exists on the individual officer's perceptions of ILAV. The aim of this study was to investigate officers' perceptions of the impacts of three different ILAVs and normal station wear whilst performing police occupational tasks. Methods: A prospective, within subjects, repeated measures design was employed in which 11 serving police officers wore each of three different types of body armour (ILAV A, ILAV B or ILAV C) and normal station wear for a full day while performing tasks including a simulated victim drag, a patrol vehicle exit and a marksmanship shoot. Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE) and a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS; - 10 to + 10) were used to examine officer perceptions of each ILAV. Finally, officers were asked to indicate areas of both discomfort and comfort of each ILAV on a mannequin chart. Results: Officers perceived less effort was required for the victim drag whilst wearing ILAV B (RPE = 3.6/10) when compared to ILAV A, ILAV C and even station wear (RPE = 4.7/10, 4.0/10, 3.8/10, respectively). A positive impact on performance was perceived for ILAV B (VAS = + 0.26) when performing a patrol vehicle exit and sprint task but not for the other two ILAVs (VAS = - 3.58, - 0.55, - 0.85, respectively). Officers perceived a positive impact of ILAV B (VAS = + 2.7) and station wear (VAS = + 1.4) and a negative impact of ILAVs A and C (VAS = - 2.1, - 1.7 respectively) on marksmanship. Despite all armour types being criticized for discomfort, ILAV B received lower ratings of discomfort overall, and some positive comments regarding both comfort and performance. Conclusions: Officers perceived ILAV B to have positive effects on task performance. It was also rated more comfortable than the other two, possibly due to a longer torso design which shifted load from the shoulders to the hips and pelvis. Officer perceptions of comfort and effects on occupational performance should be considered when designing and procuring armour systems. Although ILAVs may be similar, perceived impacts may vary between officers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2018


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