NOIRS 1997 Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 1997. Washington, DC: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1997 Oct; :40
Occupational injury surveillance systems consistently indicate that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related death. Data from the National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities (NTOF) surveillance system indicate that traffic-related motor vehicle incidents accounted for 13,017, or 20% of all work-related fatalities from 1980 through 1989. To better describe these occupational fatalities, data from NTOF were matched with data from the Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) for the years 1990 through 1992. This study identifies the industries and occupations with the highest numbers and rates of worker deaths associated with trafficrelated motor vehicle incidents, summarizes the characteristics of the events, vehicles, and persons involved in these incidents, and identifies areas for future research and prevention efforts. NTOF is a death certificate-based surveillance system that includes occupational injury deaths to workers aged 16 years and older and FARS is a census of fatal traffic crashes with data abstracted from multiple sources, including police records and coroner/medical examiner reports. Because the FARS data includes detailed information for traffic-related incidents not included on death certificates, the NTOF data were matched with the FARS data to better describe these fatalities. There were 2,474 events that involved at least one work-related fatality. These events involved 2,135 motor vehicles that were occupied by at least one fatally injured worker and 337 motor vehicles that fatally struck 351 pedestrians who were working. These events resulted in 2,562 work-related fatalities. Seventy- one percent of the events occurred on three roadway types: 27% on a state highway, 24% on an interstate, and 20% on a US highway. Thirty-five percent of the vehicles occupied by at least one fatally injured worker were tractor trailers, 16% were pickups, and 14% were 2- or 4- door sedans. The majority (76%) of those killed were drivers, 14% were pedestrians, and 9% were passengers. Thirty-two percent of the drivers worked in the trucking service, 9% in construction, 5% in crop production, and 4% in justice/ public order/safety. Twenty-six percent of the events that involved pedestrians occurred in a construction/ maintenance zone. Thirtytwo percent of the pedestrians worked in construction, 10% in trucking service, 7% in automobile repair, and 7% in justice/public order/ safety. Of the 1,468 drivers for which blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) were provided, 87% had no indication of alcohol, 5% had BACs between .01 and .09 grams per deciliter, while 8% had BACs of .10 - the legal limit of intoxication in most states. Prevention efforts must be emphasized to reduce the number and rate of occupational fatalities involving motor vehicles. These efforts need to address risks common across all industries as well as those specific to particular tasks, such as flagging in construction. Prevention efforts should include education, enforcement, and engineering controls. Additionally, research efforts must continue to address the many remaining questions regarding risk factors and the most effective strategies for reducing occupational motor vehicle-related deaths.