Home injuries are a substantial health burden worldwide, with the home setting being at least as important as the road for injury. Focusing on common injury hazards presented by the home environment, we sought to examine the justification for significant expenditure on safety-related repairs to the housing stock. Trained inspectors assessed 961 New Zealand houses for injury hazards. Using administrative data from the Accident Compensation Corporation (the national injury insurance agency), 1328 home injuries were identified amongst the 1612 occupants of these houses over the 2006-2009 period. Telephone interviews gathered data on the location and nature of these injuries, and the attitudes of those injured to potential injury hazards in their homes. Commonly occurring injury hazards that could be repaired at modest cost were identified based on their prevalence estimated by the housing inspection, and their location with respect to the areas of the home where the injuries occurred (identified during the telephone interviews). About 38% of the home injuries studied were potentially related to a structural aspect of the home environment. Common safety hazards included the lack of working smoke detectors (65% of the sample), inadequately fenced driveways (55%), hot water temperatures measured at over 60° (49%) and poorly lit access to the house (34%). A protocol for identifying and repairing important common hazards was designed. The actual safety effects of this protocol are in the process of being examined in a randomised controlled trial.
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