Occupational injury risk among australian paramedics: An analysis of national data
Australasian Medical Publishing Company Ltd
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Medical Sciences
Objective: To identify the occupational risks for Australian paramedics, by describing the rate of injuries and fatalities and comparing those rates with other reports. Design and participants: Retrospective descriptive study using data provided by Safe Work Australia for the period 2000-2010. The subjects were paramedics who had been injured in the course of their duties and for whom a claim had been made for workers compensation payments. Main outcome measures: Rates of injury calculated from the data provided. Results: The risk of serious injury among Australian paramedics was found to be more than seven times higher than the Australian national average. The fatality rate for paramedics was about six times higher than the national average. On average, every 2 years during the study period, one paramedic died and 30 were seriously injured in vehicle crashes. Ten Australian paramedics were seriously injured each year as a result of an assault. The injury rate for paramedics was more than two times higher than the rate for police offi cers. Conclusions: The high rate of occupational injuries and fatalities among paramedics is a serious public health issue. The risk of injury in Australia is similar to that in the United States. While it may be anticipated that injury rates would be higher as a result of the nature of the work and environment of paramedics, further research is necessary to identify and validate the strategies required to minimise the rates of occupational injury for paramedics.