For more than 75 years, the National Safety Council has published "Accident Facts." This annual publication is the best available source of injury data and statistics. This year's edition says that although some of the circumstances associated with unintentional injuries have changed since 1921, it is clear that many of the risks Americans face in 1996 are the same as those faced earlier in the century - traffic accidents, falls, drownings and fires and burns.
In this column, and those of the next several weeks, data and information from "Accident Facts" will be featured.- Deaths at work. Between 1912 and 1995, unintentional work deaths per 100,000 population were reduced 90 percent. In 1912, an estimated 18,000 to 21,000 workers' lives were lost. In 1995, in a work force more than triple in size and producing 13 times the goods and services, there were 5,300 work deaths.
- Work injury costs. The true cost to the nation, to employers and to individuals of work-related deaths and injuries is much greater than the cost of workers' compensation insurance alone. Estimated costs:
- Total cost in 1995 - $119.4 billion.
- Cost per worker - $960.
- Cost per death - $790,000.
- Cost per disabling injury - $28,000.
- Lost time.
- Total time lost in 1995 - 120,000,000 days lost.
- Due to injuries - 75,000,000 days lost.
- Due to injuries in prior years - 45,000,000.
- Fatal occupational injuries. Nearly half of all fatal occupational injuries involved workers between 25 and 44 years old. Seven out of eight deaths and about three-fifths of the disabling injuries suffered by workers occurred off the job.
- Part of body injured. Injuries to the back occurred most frequently, followed by leg, arm, thumb and finger, and multiple-part injuries. Back injuries were also the most highly compensated injury type.
- Occupations with the highest fatalities. Of all occupations, truck drivers have the highest number of work deaths. In 1994, more than 760 truck drivers were killed on the job, with more than 500 of these occurring in highway accidents.
The next most dangerous occupation in terms of deaths was farm workers, who suffered 261 deaths. The 10 occupations with the highest number of fatalities (including unintentional and homicides) are:
1. Truck drivers.
2. Farm workers.
3. Supervisors, proprietors.
4. Construction laborers.
5. Police, detectives.
6. Airplane pilots.
8. Taxicab drivers.
9. Timber cutters.
- Occupational health. More than 514,000 occupational illnesses were diagnosed in 1994. Disorders associated with repeated trauma were the most common illness, followed by skin diseases and disorders, and respiratory conditions due to toxic agents.
- Carpel tunnel syndrome. Nearly 1.5 percent of workers in the United States self-report carpel tunnel syndrome. Reported rates were higher for females than for males. Industries with the highest rates include the food industry and repair service. Mail and message distributing occupations and health assessment and treatment occupations were the leading occupations reporting this syndrome.
Alton Thygerson, professor of health sciences at Brigham Young University, is the National Safety Council's first aid and CPR author and technical consultant. For more information, the new National Safety Council First Aid Handbook by Alton Thygerson is available in local bookstores.