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Shifts, Extended Work Hours, and Fatigue: An Assessment of Health and Personal Risks for Police Officers

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2005, $501,676)

There is a need among first responders and emergency occupations to react with alertness to the situation at hand. Police work ranks high among such occupations. Little is known of the long term impact of shift work and extended work hours on police officers, and no long term detailed exposure assessment of work/shift hours has been done on a cohort of police officers. For many officers, fatigue may become an accepted part of their life as they rotate from shift to shift, work long hours in crisis situations and overtime, work second jobs, and deal with their own personal lives outside of work. Recent evidence suggests that fatigue and disrupted work schedules can increase the risk of mortality and morbidity disease among workers. SUNY Buffalo, the team currently conducting the NIJ-NIOSH 'Buffalo Cardio-Metabolic Occupational Police Stress (BCOPS) study, has a unique opportunity to access and analyze detailed work hour and shift records for Buffalo police officers over the past 55 years. The current study, which looks at health morbidity, would be supplemented by the collection of work hours, shifts worked, vehicle accidents and injuries for the entire course of these officers' careers with the Buffalo Police Department. The goal is to add this new set of information to the health data currently being collected on these officers in an effort to find associations between health morbidity, accidents, injuries and work history. The primary goal of the proposed investigation is to examine the number of hours, shift work, and overtime hours that police officers have worked over their entire careers and the association of such exposure with adverse outcomes such as disease, accidents, work errors, psychological anomalies such as stress or depression, and mortality. The proposed study will examine two groups of police officers. The first will be an entire police agency (the Buffalo New York Police Department) of currently employed officers presently under study for health and stress factors (n=700). The researchers will assess career-length work hour/shift impact on health morbidity, stress, accidents, injuries, and personal outcomes of fatigue for this group of officers. Analysis among currently employed officers will calculate statistical risk for outcomes of subclinical disease based on independent variables of career length work hours/shift work, sleep quality, stress biomarkers (cortisol) and other work and lifestyle covariates such as physical activity, diet, smoking, and alcohol abuse. The second group will consist of a 60-year cohort of police officers ever employed with the Buffalo Police Department from 1950-2004. The cohort mortality study will cover an estimated 100,000 person-years of observation to assess the impact of work/shift hours on causes of death obtained from the U.S. National Death Index. The mortality study will calculate the risks of specific causes of death in police officers as compared to the U.S. General population and will allow internal comparisons by shift work patterns. An exposure matrix will be developed as a potential took to establish health and work risks as they might relate to work hours/shift work in other police departments or populations. CA/NCF
Date Created: September 20, 2005