South Carolina emergency services workers are at a significantly increased risk of work-related illness and injury, according to a 2015 study of the industry. The study analyzed shift schedules for 4,000 employees over the course of three years as well as 950 occupational health records from industry leaders. Researchers found that extended shifts resulted in an elevated risk of injury and posed the potential of reducing EMS workers’ ability to function in their high-stress jobs.

The study found that those who work 12 hours or more are 60 percent more likely to suffer a workplace illness or injury than their counterparts who work shorter shifts. The danger associated with extended shifts goes up the more the length of the shift increases. Some clinicians have to work 24-hour shifts, which pose the greatest risk and take the highest toll on patient care.

Emergency services workers must be able to move patients and keep a clear head in chaotic emergency situations. Long hours may diminish these abilities, according to researchers, who found that their results were the sameregardless of how much experience the EMS crew had working together. The study also accounted for the time of day. While these findings do not prove that long shifts lead to injuries, researchers explain that they point out a strong trend that should be further investigated.

Emergency medical services workers who are injured on the job may be eligible to recieve workers’ compensation benefits that can include the payment of necessary medical expenses as well as a percentage of wages lost. An attorney who has experience with these matters can often be of assistance to a worker in the preparation and filing of the required claim.