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Keywords:

  • CFOI;
  • traumatic injury;
  • fatality rates;
  • occupation;
  • police

Abstract

Background

Occupational injury deaths remain high for Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs). This study describes and compares intentional and transportation-related fatality rates in US LEOs between 1992 and 2002.

Methods

Workplace injury deaths among LEOs from 1992 to 2002 were categorized into “Intentional,” “Transportation-related,” and “Other,” using the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Occupations included in this analysis were sheriffs and bailiffs, police and detectives, non-public service guards, and correctional officers. Fatality rates were compared among law enforcement occupations, cause of death, and demographics with rate ratios and 95% confidence intervals.

Results

During the 11-year period, 2,280 workers died from an occupational injury, for a fatality rate of 11.8 per 100,000 across all LEO occupations. Forty-seven percent were homicides (n = 1,072, rate 5.6 per 100,000), 36% transportation-related (n = 815, rate 4.2 per 100,000), 11% were due to other causes (n = 249, rate 1.3 per 100,000), and 5% were workplace suicides (n = 122, rate 0.6 per 100,000). The proportion of fatalities by cause of death differed significantly between occupations (P < 0.0001). Sheriffs and bailiffs experience a high risk for occupational injury death compared to other law enforcement occupations. Of the transportation-related fatalities, LEOs were operating a motor-vehicle in 58% of the incidents and 22% of the fatalities were struck by incidents.

Conclusions

Transportation-related deaths were nearly as common as homicides as a cause of occupational injury death among US LEOs. Struck by vehicle incidents remain an important and overlooked cause of death. This research points to opportunities for the prevention of transportation-related deaths in law enforcement. Am. J. Ind. Med. 53:940–949, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.