A systematic review on occupational hazards, injuries and diseases among police officers worldwide: policy implications for the South African Police Service

SOURCE: Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): G.Mona, M.Chimbari, C.Hongoro
DEPARTMENT: Impact Centre (IC), Impact Centre (PRESS), Impact Centre (CC)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 10738
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/13556
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11910/13556

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Occupational hazards, injuries and diseases are a major concern among police officers, including in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, there is limited locally relevant literature for guiding policy for the South African Police Service (SAPS). The purpose of this review was to describe the occupational hazards, injuries and diseases affecting police officers worldwide, in order to benchmark policy implications for the SAPS. The authors conducted a systematic review of studies using Google Scholar, PubMed and Scopus. A total of 36 studies were included in this review. Six revealed that police officers' exposure to accident hazards may lead to acute or chronic injuries such as sprains, fractures or even fatalities. These hazards may occur during driving, patrol or riot control. There were two studies, which confirmed physical hazards such as noise induced hearing loss (NIHL), due to exposure to high levels of noise. Three studies on chemical hazards revealed that exposure to high concentrations of carbon dioxide and general air pollution was associated with cancer, while physical exposure to other chemical substances was linked to dermatitis. Four studies on biological hazards demonstrated potential exposure to blood borne diseases from needle stick injuries (NSIs) or cuts from contaminated objects. One study on ergonomic hazards showed that musculoskeletal disorders can result from driving long distances and lifting heavy objects. There were 15 studies that indicated psychological hazards such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well as stress. Moreover, four studies were conducted on organizational hazards including burnout, negative workplace exposure and other factors. This review outlined the global impact of occupational hazards, injuries and diseases in the police force. It served as a benchmark for understanding the policy implications for South Africa, where there is paucity of studies on occupational health and safety.