Occupational injuries among U.S. correctional officers, 1999-2008

J Safety Res. 2012 Jul;43(3):181-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2012.06.002. Epub 2012 Jul 3.


Objective: This study describes fatal and nonfatal occupational injuries among U.S. correctional officers.

Methods: Fatal injuries were obtained from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries; nonfatal injuries were identified from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System- Occupational Supplement.

Results: From 1999-2008, there were 113 fatalities and an estimated 125,200 (CI=±70,100) nonfatal injuries were treated in emergency departments. Assaults and violent acts (n=45, 40%) and transportation related fatalities (n=45, 40%) were the two primary fatal injury events. Assaults and violent acts (n=47,500 (CI=±24,500), 38%) and bodily reaction and exertion (n=25,400 (CI=±16,800), 20%) were the leading events resulting in nonfatal injuries.

Conclusions: While workplace violence is the primary cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among correctional officers, transportation events and bodily reactions are also leading causes of occupational injury. Future research is needed to identify risk factors unique to these events and develop appropriate prevention and intervention efforts.

Impact on industry: This study adds to the literature on occupational injuries among correctional officers and provides a national level description of fatal and nonfatal injuries across a 10-year period. Given that assaults and violent acts, transportation events, and bodily reaction and exertion were significant injury events, future research should describe detailed injury circumstances and risk factors for correctional officers unique to these events. This would allow appropriate prevention and control efforts to be developed to reduce injuries from these events.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Injuries / etiology
  • Occupational Injuries / mortality
  • Police / statistics & numerical data*
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prisons*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult