NOIRS 1997 Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 1997. Washington, DC: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1997 Oct; :22-23
From 1980 to 1989 Alaska had the highest rate of any state for occupational fatalities, 34.8 deaths per 100,000 workers per year, five times higher than the U.S. average of 7.0 deaths per 100,000 workers per year. The majority of the occupational fatalities occurred in the fishing, logging, and aviation industries. The Alaska Trauma Registry (ATR) provides a population-based tool for occupational injury surveillance for moderate to severe injuries. Each hospital in Alaska participates in contributing data to the ATR. To be included in the ATR, patients either have to be admitted to a hospital, transferred from an Emergency Department (ED) to a facility with a higher level of care, or declared dead in the hospital's ED. Data for the ATR is collected retrospectively from medical record charts and the information is sent to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Division of Public Health, Section of Community Health and Emergency Medical Services to be compiled into the ATR. Data fields related to occupational injury surveillance go through additional cleaning and coding by personnel at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Division of Safety Research, Alaska Field Station. Cause of the injury can be examined via the ICD-9-CM "E-Code" and the injury description narrative. Currently the ATR has information for 20,842 cases from January 1991 through December 1995; 2,421 (12%) of these injuries were classified as occupational injuries. There are 40 fatalities among the occupational injuries (1.7%). Commercial fishing, construction, and logging led the industry categories for number of occupational injuries. The most common causes of injuries in the fishing industry were caused by machinery onboard vessel (74), fall between levels (38), and cuts (13). There are a wide variety of machines used on fishing vessels: a hydraulic lifting platform known as a crab pot launcher was the most common machine mentioned in causing injury. In the construction industry, different types of falls lead all causes with falls from or out of building or other structure (64), fall on or from ladder (43), and fall on or from scaffolding (36). The top three causes in the logging industry were being struck by an object (94), falls (33), and machinery (28). Conclusions. The main causes of occupational fatalities in Alaska have been drowning (primarily in commercial fishermen) and trauma related to aircraft crashes. With the emphasis of the ATR primarily on non-fatal injuries, we have identified further areas of study for crab fishing injuries, falls in construction, and logging-related injuries in Alaska. As it is population-based, ATR data can be used to calculate injury incidence rates. The use of rates in injury surveillance will make the ATR data useful for industries to prioritize areas for injury prevention.