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Police officers, firefighters, and other public safety workers are asked to put their lives at risk to protect the general public, so it is not surprising that they face exceptionally high rates of injury and fatality relative to the general workforce. To help protect public safety employees from work-related injuries and illnesses without compromising their ability to do their jobs, policymakers need a better understanding of the specific risk factors associated with different aspects of public safety occupations. To further such understanding, LaTourrette, Loughran, and Seabury conducted a literature review of research on this topic; held roundtable discussions with representatives from several public safety departments in California; and analyzed national survey data, as well as administrative data from California, to illuminate how the injury, illness, and fatality rates for public safety employees differ from those of the general workforce. The authors highlight opportunities and challenges to improving the health and safety of public safety workers.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Description of Injury and Disability Compensation for Public Safety Employees

  • Chapter Three

    What Is Known About the Safety and Health of Public Safety Employees?

  • Chapter Four

    Characterizing Current Strategies for Reducing Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Among Public Safety Employees

  • Chapter Five

    The Health of Public Safety Workers Relative to That of Other Workers

  • Chapter Six

    Work-Related Disability Benefit Receipt and Disability Retirement Among Public Safety Employees

  • Chapter Seven

    Conclusions and Policy Implications

  • Appendix A

    Roundtable Discussion Protocol

  • Appendix B

    Assessing the Quality of the Match Between the Workers' Compensation and Disability Retirement Data

This research was co-sponsored by the California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation (CHSWC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and was conducted under the auspices of the RAND Institute for Civil Justice (ICJ) and the Safety and Justice Program within RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment (ISE).

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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