CDC Reports On Occupational Injuries And Deaths Among Younger Workers From 1998 To 2007

                               Washington, DC (CompNewsNetwork) - Younger workers (defined as those aged 15--24 years) represent 14% of the U.S. labor force and face high risk for injury while on the job (1--4). To assess trends and help guide efforts to improve young worker safety, CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) analyzed data from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) and the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System occupational supplement (NEISS-Work) for the period 1998--2007. This report summarizes the results of that analysis. During the 10-year period, 5,719 younger workers died from occupational injuries. The fatality rate for younger workers was 3.6 deaths per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers (FTE) (one FTE = 2,000 hours worked per year) and was lower than the rate for older workers (defined as aged ≥25 years) (4.4 deaths per 100,000 FTE). The fatality rate decreased an estimated 14% during the 10-year period. For the same period, an estimated 7.9 million nonfatal injuries to younger workers were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments (EDs). The nonfatal injury rate was 5.0 ED-treated injuries per 100 FTE and was approximately two times higher than among workers aged ≥25 years. The rate of nonfatal injuries among younger workers declined 19%, but the decline was not statistically significant. Public health, labor, and trade organizations should provide guidance to employers to help them in their responsibilities to provide safer workplaces and should identify steps that employers can take to remove or reduce injury hazards. Employers need to ensure that their younger workers have the requisite training and personal protective equipment to perform their jobs safely.

For CFOI, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collects data on occupational injury deaths from multiple sources, including death certificates, police reports, and workers' compensation reports.* To be included in CFOI, the decedent must have been employed at the time of incident, working as a volunteer in the same functions as a paid employee, or present at a site as a job requirement (5). CFOI includes deaths of all youths working on family farms and other businesses. The event or exposure causing death is classified according to the Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System (OIICS) (5). To calculate fatality rates, labor force denominator estimates were derived from the U.S. Current Population Survey (CPS)for workers aged ≥15 years (3). Beginning in 2003, the decedents' industry was reported according to the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).§ Industry coding before 2003 was not compatible with this system; therefore, for this report, industry information is only given for deaths occurring during 2003--2007.

The NEISS-Work ED-based surveillance system tracks nonfatal work-related injuries and illnesses treated in EDs by using a national stratified probability sample of 67 U.S. hospitals. For NEISS-Work, injuries or illnesses are determined to be work related when the ED chart indicates that the incident occurred to a civilian noninstitutionalized person while working for pay or other compensation, working on a farm, or volunteering for an organized group. Trained personnel abstract information regarding worker, injury/illness, and incident characteristics from medical records at each participating hospital. The event or exposure causing injury is classified according to the OIICS (5). Industry data are not available for NEISS-Work.

NEISS-Work cases were assigned statistical weights based on a sampling frame of national hospital ED visits. The weights were summed to provide national estimates of the number of work-related ED-treated injuries and illnesses. For nonfatal injury rates, CPS labor force denominator estimates were used (3). Ninety-five percent confidence intervals (CIs) for number and rate of injury took into account the variance arising from the stratified sample. Variances for rates also took into account the denominator variance by using the BLS approximate standard error formulas derived for the CPS (3). Trends in fatal and nonfatal injury rates were tested for statistical significance by using Poisson regression analysis.

During 1998--2007, a total of 5,719 fatal injuries among younger workers were identified (average of 572 per year). An estimated 10-year decline of 14% (p<0.001) was observed in the rate of deaths, as well as an estimated 19% decline in the rate of nonfatal work injuries among younger workers, although the latter decline was not statistically significant (p=0.3). Among younger workers, the highest nonfatal injury rates were experienced by workers aged 18 and 19 years, at 6.3 (CI = ±2.0) and 5.9 (CI = ±1.8) injuries per 100 FTE, respectively. The younger worker nonfatal injury rate was twofold higher than the rate for older workers (5.0 ED-treated injuries per 100 FTE compared with 2.4, respectively).

Younger Hispanic workers had a fatality rate (5.6 per 100,000 FTE [p=0.1]) that was significantly higher than the rate for non-Hispanic white workers (3.3 per 100,000 FTE; p<0.001) and the rate for non-Hispanic black workers (2.3 per 100,000 FTE; p<0.001). In contrast, the rate of nonfatal ED-treated injuries for younger Hispanic workers was not significantly different from younger, non-Hispanic white and black workers (2.3 versus 4.5 per 100 FTE [p=0.06 for white workers] and 2.3 versus 3.8 per 100 FTE [p=0.1 for black workers]). Similar to older workers, younger male workers experienced higher rates of fatal and nonfatal injuries than younger female workers.

Transportation-related deaths, largely highway incidents, were the most frequently recorded events among all age groups. Transportation events included incidents involving all forms of transportation and powered industrial equipment when the incident resulted in an injury from a collision, loss of vehicle control, sudden vehicle stop, or a pedestrian/worker being struck by a vehicle. Highway incidents occurred on public roadways, shoulders, or surrounding areas (excluding incidents off the highway/street or on industrial, commercial, or farm premises or parking lots). For nonfatal injuries, contact with objects or equipment was the most common event for all age groups but accounted for a larger proportion of injuries among younger workers (49%) compared with older workers (40%). The contact injuries largely involved the worker being struck by or against, rubbed or abraded, or caught in or crushed by various tools, equipment, machinery, parts, or materials.

Results for fatal injuries classified by industry indicate that, during 2003--2007, the greatest number of fatal injuries among younger workers occurred in the services (32%), construction (28%), wholesale and retail trade (10%), and agriculture (10%) industry sectors. Younger workers experienced the highest rates of fatal injury in mining (36.5 per 100,000 FTE), agriculture (21.3 per 100,000 FTE), and construction (10.9 per 100,000 FTE). 

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