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A story of impact: NIOSH continues research to improve safety for ambulance service workers and EMS responders.

Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011-190, 2011 Aug; :1-2
Transportation incidents are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the United States; between 2003 and 2009, an average of almost 1,300 U.S. workers died from roadway crashes each year. The risk is even greater for emergency medical services (EMS) personnel. In 2002 field investigators estimated that the fatality rate for EMS workers was more than 2 times the national average for all workers. As part of the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA), researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) set out to reduce ambulance crash - related injuries and deaths among EMS workers. Research addressed the layout and structural integrity of ambulance compartments, design of hardware, and occupant restraints. NIOSH research revealed a number of important factors involved in ambulance worker injuries and deaths. For example, field investigators observed that EMS workers often ride on the squad bench without wearing a restraint. This allows them to lean forward, stand up, or change positions as needed to reach the patient or equipment, but places them at higher risk of striking bulkheads, cabinets, shelves, or other occupants during a crash. NIOSH crash tests also revealed the possibility of head injury if a worker's head strikes the cabinets immediately above or behind them, and noted that vehicle structural failures can be a contributing factor in adverse outcomes of EMS crashes.
Transportation-industry; Transportation-workers; Mortality-rates; Mortality-data; Motor-vehicles; Emergency-responders; Paramedical-services; Medical-personnel; Health-care-personnel; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Safety-equipment; Safety-belts
Publication Date
Document Type
Numbered Publication; Impact Sheet
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2011-190
NIOSH Division
Priority Area
Services: Public Safety
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division