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An Epidemiologic Study of Sudden Death at Work.

University of Pittsburgh, Ph.D. Thesis (Unpublished), 1985:232 pages
A descriptive study of sudden death on the job and a case control study focusing on cardiac deaths at work were reported. According to county coroner records, 245 sudden deaths due to injuries and natural causes occurred from 1979 through 1982 while the decedent was at work in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. The age adjusted death rate for natural causes for white males at work was 11.2 per 100,000; more than 90 percent of the deaths resulted from heart attacks, almost twice as high as the death rate for fatal injuries. In service occupations, the death rate at work from natural causes was 27 per 100,000, or 2.5 times as high as the rate for the general population of the county. The highest rates for fatal injuries were encountered in the construction industry (24.3 per 100,000), where nonroad vehicles accounted for 19 percent of the deaths, followed by ladders or scaffolds in 18 percent. Sixteen additional deaths or injuries occurred when another person attempted to assist the decedent or as a result of the incident. A case control study revealed that men who died at work from sudden cardiac death were more likely to be engaged in blue collar occupations than men who died off the job; the difference was statistically significant. About 1 percent of natural deaths and 7 percent of injuries were associated with levels of alcohol in the blood higher than 100 milligrams per milliliter. The author concludes that coroner records are a better source than state records for the identification of deaths at work in a well defined geographical region. Recommendations include a flip switch alert system for isolated workers, better training for confined space rescues, and improved maintenance of nonroad vehicles.
Epidemiology; Occupational-health; Mortality-surveys; Mortality-rates; Age-factors; Accident-statistics; Myocardial-disorders; Cardiovascular-system-disorders;
Publication Date
Fiscal Year
Priority Area
Special Populations; Work Environment and Workforce;
Source Name
University of Pittsburgh, Ph.D. Thesis (Unpublished), 232 pages, 124 references
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division