Background: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is developing rapidly, with many foreign construction, farm and industrial workers.
Aims: To assess the epidemiology of occupational injury hospitalizations using a trauma registry.
Methods: Surgical admissions from March 2003 to April 2005 were recorded in the registry at the main trauma hospital in Al Ain city (population 348,000). Prevention-related variables were analysed using SPSS and severity was quantified by injury severity scores (ISS).
Results: There were 614 occupational injury hospitalizations, an incidence of approximately 136/100,000 workers/year. Males accounted for 98% of injuries, the 25-44 age group for 69% and non-nationals for 96%. External causes included falls 51%, falling objects 15%, powered machines 11%, animal-related 7% and burns 6%. Median ISS was 4 for all six main external causes. Extremities were most frequently injured, followed by chest, head and neck, abdomen and face. Mean hospitalization duration was 9.4 days, with 36% hospitalized for >1 week.
Conclusions: The main external causes were proportionately much more frequent than in industrialized countries. Effective countermeasures are needed to reduce the incidence and severity of occupational injury among vulnerable migrant workers in the UAE.