International Encyclopedia of Public Health. Quah S, Heggenhougen-K, eds., San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 2008 Sep; 4:649-658
Occupational injuries are defined by Hagberg et at. (J 997) as any damage to the body by energy transfer during work with a short duration between exposure and the health event (usually less than 48 h). Occupational injuries are distinct from occupational diseases in that they are caused by acute exposure in the workplace to physical agents such as mechanical energy, electricity, chemicals, and ionizing radiation, or from the sudden lack of essential agents such as oxygen or heat. Examples of events that can lead to worker injury include motor vehicle crashes, assaults, falls, being caught in parts of machinery, being struck by tools or objects, and submersion. Resultant injuries include fractures, lacerations, abrasions, burns, amputations, poisonings, and damage to internal organs. The definition of work relatedness varies among agencies, data sources, and countries. In addition to the common definition of 'working for compensation,' other situations such as working in the informal economy, children working for a family business or farm, volunteering, performing domestic duties, and commuting to and from work are inconsistently included in definitions of working. Variations in how occupational injuries are defined and recorded make global estimates and international comparisons difficult and inexact. Yet there is no question that occupational injuries are a serious public health problem. Concha-Barrientos et al. (2005) estimate that over 300000 workers worldwide die each year from occupational injuries. Globally, approximately 3.5 years of healthy life are lost per 100000 workers each year due to injuries at work. Occupational risk factors account for an approximate 9% of the global burden of mortality from unintentional injuries (excluding injuries from violence).