Fatal occupational injuries among self-employed workers in North Carolina

Am J Ind Med. 2003 Aug;44(2):182-90. doi: 10.1002/ajim.10244.


Background: Research suggests that rates of occupational injury and death may be higher among self-employed workers than in the wage and salaried population. This analysis was conducted to describe the demographic and occupational characteristics, as well as injuries, activities, and occupations of self-employed workers who are fatally injured on the job.

Methods: Characteristics of workers by type of employment were compared using data from the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, 1978-1994. Age-, activity-, and industry-specific fatality rates in self-employed workers (N=395) were contrasted to those privately employed (N=1,654).

Results: Highest fatal injury rates among the self-employed occurred in agriculture, retail, and transportation industries. Homicide deaths occurred more frequently among self-employed workers; deaths resulting from unintentional injuries occurred more frequently among non-self-employed workers.

Conclusions: Elevated occupational fatality death rates among self-employed workers, especially in retail and transportation industries, provide justification for addressing work-related conditions of self-employed workers in North Carolina.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / mortality*
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality / trends
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Occupational Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Population Surveillance