Study objective: In this study we describe occupational injuries among adolescents (ages 15 through 19 years) presenting at a hospital ED in Dunedin, New Zealand, 1990-1993.
Methods: We used a new database to identify work-related injuries, as well as type of injury, cause of injury, injury site, occupation, industry, age, and sex.
Results: During the 4 years of the study, 1,361 work-related injuries were treated at the ED, for an injury rate of 13.8 per 200,000 hours worked (100 full-time equivalents). Males had a rate of 20.6 injuries, females 5.8 injuries, per 200,000 hours. Compared with injury rates from other studies, rates were lower than, but reasonably comparable to, those rates estimated through more detailed surveys. Main injury sites included upper extremities (mostly hands), head (mostly eyes), and lower extremities. Laceration was the main type of injury, followed by sprain/strain and foreign body. External cause of injury was mainly cutting/piercing objects, followed by foreign body and being struck by or against an object. The rate was highest for the 16- and 17-year-olds and decreased for 18- and 19-year-olds. The rates of injuries in the construction sector were the highest of all occupational groups, at 27 injuries per 200,000 hours, followed by transportation/ communication, manufacturing (including meat and fish processing), and business and repair services. Laborers were the highest occupational risk group, with 36 injuries per 200,000 hours, followed by machine operators, precision production workers, and service workers.
Conclusion: These findings may be helpful in focusing prevention efforts in high-incidence areas. This study demonstrates how a well-planned data-collection system can overcome some of the previously described difficulties of getting prevention-oriented information from EDs.