Your job as a law enforcement officer in Southern California poses numerous hazards of physical injuries, but how prepared are you for the health risks you face? Research shows that police work correlates with multiple ailments, diseases and illnesses. Certain conditions are significantly more prevalent among police officers than any other occupation.
The two things that cause most health problems among law enforcement workers are stress and shift work. Unfortunately, both are aspects of your job that you cannot avoid. You might be on a permanent night shift cycle or rotate between day and night shifts. The fact that you never know where the next call will take you makes stress par for the course in your occupation.
Sleep is a necessity
Sufficient sleep is a biological necessity, and working when it is dark outside goes against the hardwired rhythm of your body. The typical result of working during the hours of 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. include fatigue and tiredness, both of which put your health at risk. Furthermore, logistical and practical issues can affect your family life. Your shift work can prevent interaction with your loved ones. There could be weeks without sharing time because you have to sleep when they are awake.
Common health consequences of shift work
Normal daytime sounds can interrupt your sleep, leaving you in a continuous tired or fatigued condition with the following health consequences:
- Compromised immune system
- Vulnerability to occupational injuries
- Decreased mental faculties
- Mood disorders
- Heart disease
- Strained relationships
The high demands put on you as a law enforcement officer will likely cause stress and anxiety that can accumulate to dangerous levels. You have to make life-and-death decisions in split seconds, never knowing which of the following you will face during your next call:
- Scenes of dismemberment or death
- Aggressive subjects
- Traffic violators with argumentative attitudes
- Individuals who are angry, depressed, upset or miserable
- Armed suspects
- Possible need to take the life of a person
You may also frequently face the difficult task of informing families of the deaths of loved ones.
Resulting health problems
Studies show that the combination of shift work and high stress levels can lead to the following adverse health conditions:
- Metabolic syndrome
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Resistance to insulin
- Cardiac problems
Traumatic experiences in the line of your work can also lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Your workers’ compensation rights
When it comes to police officers and first responders, the California workers’ compensation system presumes that certain health conditions are work-related. Although this can make the benefits claims process less challenging, it makes sense to secure the assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney who can provide valuable support and guidance.