The twentieth century witnessed remarkable reductions in the number and rate of occupational fatalities and injuries. However, many preventable injuries and deaths still occur. Barriers to progress in occupational injury prevention are discussed, along with strategies for overcoming them. In mining, the frequency of death has dramatically declined over the century. The latest figures from the BLS indicate that less than 6000 worker deaths from injury occurred in 2000. Catastrophic events have prompted increased attention, resources, and action on workplace hazards and risks, resulting in sweeping changes, including new protective laws. Science based approaches to prevention have contributed to progress. Multidisciplinary collaboration among injury prevention researchers, and collaboration and cooperation among multiple sectors, have improved the relevance and application of injury prevention research and development. Barriers to further progress include lack of evaluation of the effectiveness of prevention strategies and technologies, including cost effectiveness; lack of widespread implementation of known, effective prevention; and lack of efficient transfer and implementation of prevention knowledge and products to the workplace. Evaluation and implementation of prevention efforts are most successfully achieved in partnership between researchers and the industry at risk, which requires outreach efforts on the part of the occupational research community.
Dr N A Stout, Division of Safety Research, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1095 Willowdale Road, Morgantown, West Virginia 26505