Police officers have a higher risk of incurring a work-related injury or illness than most other occupations. On average, 115 police and sheriff’s patrol officers suffered fatal work injuries each year from 2003 to 2014. Another 30,990 nonfatal injuries involving days away from work were reported for police and sheriff’s patrol officers on average each year from 2009 to 2014.1,2
The 2010 Standard Occupational Classification describes police and sheriff’s patrol officers (which we will call "police officers" for short) as workers who "maintain order and protect life and property by enforcing local, tribal, State, or Federal laws and ordinances." Most police officers work for local governments, and some work for state governments or the federal government.3
The rate of fatal work injuries for police officers in 2014 was 13.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, compared to 3.4 for all occupations. Similarly, the rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work among police officers was 485.8 cases per 10,000 full-time workers in 2014; the rate was 107.1 cases for all occupations.
From 2009 to 2014, an average of 87 percent of police and sheriff’s patrol officers were men.4 During that same period, men accounted for an average of 86 percent of the nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses requiring days away from work among police officers. Men also accounted for over 90 percent of the work-related police officer fatalities in every year from 2003 to 2014, except for 2008 (89 percent).
Nonfatal injuries and illnesses in 2014 that caused police officers to miss work resulted primarily from violence and other injuries by persons or animals and falls, slips, and trips. The primary causes of fatal occupational injuries among police officers in 2014 were violence and other injuries by persons or animals (56 percent) and transportation incidents (41 percent).
Homicides, one type of violence incident, accounted for 45 percent of fatal work injuries for police officers in 2014, but only 8 percent for all occupations. Of the fatal transportation incidents involving police officers, 40 percent were the result of a roadway collision with another vehicle. Of the 97 fatal work injuries to police officers in 2014, 10 were killed in multiple-fatality incidents (where more than one worker was killed).
In 2014, fatal work injuries to police officers occurred mostly (64 percent) on streets or highways. In 41 percent of all fatal injuries involving police officers, a motor vehicle was the primary source of injury (typically from collisions or running off the road). Another 56 percent involved a person (either the police officer or someone else) as the primary source of fatal injury. Most often this was an assailant such as a robber, suspect, or inmate involved in hitting, kicking, beating, or shooting.
Police officers experienced 27,660 nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses that resulted in days away from work in 2014. The median days away from work for police officers in 2014 was 10 days, compared to 9 days for all occupations. The body parts most often injured in nonfatal incidents that caused police officers to miss work were the upper extremities (25 percent) and lower extremities (24 percent). The primary nature of these injuries were sprains, strains, and tears (34 percent).
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fatality data are from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. Nonfatal injury and illness data are from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. Fatal and nonfatal data are for all ownerships collected. BLS does not collect data on nonfatal injuries and illnesses for the federal government.
1 The Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) collected national data on state and local government workers for the first time in 2008. Estimates of nonfatal injuries and illnesses involving days away from work among police officers were not available for 2008.
2 Occupation data from 2003 to 2010 are based on the Standard Occupational Classification system, 2000. Occupation data from 2011 to the present are based on the Standard Occupational Classification system, 2010.
3 See Occupational Outlook Handbook (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014-15 Edition), www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/police-and-detectives.htm#tab-1
Last Modified Date: April 27, 2018