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Overweight officers more prone to injury

| Apr 6, 2015 | Workers’ Compensation

Every workers’ compensation attorney in Chicago is aware that law enforcement officers have strenuous jobs. They work long hours in difficult conditions, and they must often pursue suspects on foot or restrain them forcibly. These physical challenges can result in injury. According to a recent study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a group of officers in American cities lost a total of 59,380 hours of work because of job-related injury during a recent one-year period.

Some officers are at even greater risk because of their lack of physical fitness. The IACP study tracked the weight and body mass of police who were injured in the line of duty. The findings were unambiguous: Overweight officers are more likely to get hurt and slower to recover after an injury.

Body mass index among police officers

IACP’s study used body mass index as a measure of general physical fitness. This statistic is obtained by dividing a person’s weight by the square of the person’s height, as any doctor or workers’ compensation attorney in Chicago knows. The resulting number is used to determine whether the subject is healthy, overweight, obese or morbidly obese. For the purpose of this study, police officers with a BMI over 25 were considered overweight and those with a BMI over 30 were considered obese. Officers with a BMI exceeding 40 were counted as morbidly obese. There were 17 morbidly obese officers in the study.

Overweight officers face a number of problems

According to the IACP’s report, officers who maintained an unhealthy weight were more likely to suffer problems in all of the following areas:

  • Increased frequency of injury on the job
  • Increased severity of injuries
  • Lengthened rehabilitation times after accidents
  • More missed work days

In each of these areas, overweight officers performed considerably worse than normal weight officers.

Significant differences between normal weight and overweight officers

IACP statistics show that normal weight officers missed an average of 2.84 days of work due to injury during the year. Overweight police officers missed an average of 9.89 days, an increase by a factor of almost four. These measurable differences in job performance and length of disability are significant.

Fitness is important in law enforcement

The recent IACP study shows that physical fitness is an important part of law enforcement. Officers can cut the risk of injury by taking care of their own health. People who have been hurt on the job may find it useful to contact a workers’ compensation attorney in Chicago.