Police officers face a lot of risk on the job – but who knew that just dressing for work could be so hazardous? An officer can’t really start their day without strapping on the “Sam Browne” duty belt that carries all the essential tools of their trade.
Unfortunately, even though the duty belt is an integral part of a police officer’s uniform, the Same Browne can pack up to 30 pounds of additional weight around an officer’s midsection. Then, officers are required to sit, stand, walk and sometimes run with these weights around their hips for long shifts each workday. The constant pressure and excess weight on their bodies can lead to numerous injuries.
Back strain and spinal injuries
The weight of the duty belt, combined with the physically demanding nature of police work, can contribute to back strain, herniated discs and spinal misalignments.
Hip and pelvic injuries
Carrying all that heavy equipment on their hips can cause police officers hip pain, joint inflammation, bursitis and (given enough time) even hip dysplasia.
That tremendous pressure from an officer’s duty belt can compress nerve bundles in their back, leading to conditions like sciatica, which causes pain, numbness, and tingling down the extremities and can be quite debilitating.
Most officers would probably attribute digestive problems to the stress of their jobs but the tightness of the duty belt can actually put pressure on their abdomens, potentially leading to acid reflux. hernias and other gastrointestinal issues.
Officers often have to reach for one tool or another on their duty belts throughout the day. They also have to frequently steady its weight with their hands to keep the belt from bouncing around. The repetitive motions associated with accessing equipment on the duty belt and steadying it can contribute to musculoskeletal disorders like tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and rotator cuff injuries.
If you’re a police officer who has been experiencing back pain, nerve pain, pelvic issues or any other condition that you believe is related to carrying your duty belt, you may be eligible for medical care, wage replacement benefits, vocational retraining and more through workers’ compensation. Seeking experienced legal guidance can help you navigate the system.