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Occupational and public health considerations for work-hour limitations policy regarding public health workers during response to natural and human-caused disasters

Murray R. Berkowitz, DO, MA, MS, MPH

Abstract


This article examines the occupational health considerations that might impact the health and wellbeing of public health workers during responses to natural (eg, floods and hurricanes) and humancaused (eg, terrorism, war, and shootings) disasters. There are a number of articles in the medical literature that argue the impact of how working long hours by house staff physicians, nurses, and first-responders may pose health and safety concerns regarding the patients being treated. The question examined here is how working long hours may pose health and/or safety concerns for the public health workers themselves, as well as to those in the communities they serve. The health problems related to sleep deprivation are reviewed. Current policies and legislations regarding work-hour limitations are examined. Policy implications are discussed.

Keywords


disaster response, disaster workers, occupational health, public health, work-hour limitations

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/ajdm.2012.0094

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