NIOSH logo and tagline

Nonfatal Injuries among Law Enforcement Officers

February 12, 2018
NIOSH Update:

Nura Sadeghpour (202) 245-0673

Study provides estimates and trends of emergency department visits for both intentional and unintentional on-duty injuries

An estimated 669,100 law enforcement officers were treated in emergency departments across the nation for nonfatal injuries between 2003 and 2014, according to a study by researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The study, which is the first to examine nonfatal injuries among officers on a national scale, was published online this month in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Law enforcement officers (LEOs) have historically high rates of fatal and nonfatal injuries. The new research shows that officers are three times more likely to sustain a nonfatal injury than all other U.S. workers, and is the first to capture nonfatal injuries sustained from assaults and unintentional injuries such as accidental falls or motor vehicle crashes.

“Studies based on evidence are an important feature of public health and this principle extends to studying the law enforcement community and their work,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “The safety and health of both police and citizens depend on understanding how policing tactics impact officer and citizen injuries.”

The study researchers, whose aim was to provide national estimates and trends of nonfatal injuries to law enforcement officers from 2003 – 2014, found the following:

  • The LEO nonfatal injury trend increased across the 12-year period studied; this is in contrast with the trend for all other U.S. workers which significantly decreased.
  • Assault-related injury rates significantly increased almost 10% annually from 2003 to 2011.
  • The three leading reasons for on-duty injuries were assaults & violent acts (36%), bodily reactions & exertion from running or other repetitive motions (15%), and transportation incidents (14%).

The study used nonfatal injury data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System – Occupational Supplement (NEISS-Work). Data were obtained for injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments from 2003-2014.

To access the paper, please visit Nonfatal injuries to law enforcement officers treated in U.S. emergency departments:  A rise in assaults. To learn more about law enforcement safety and health, please visit the NIOSH website.

NIOSH is the federal institute that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. For more information about NIOSH visit