Occupational and environmental health: recognizing and preventing disease and injury, 6th edition. Levy BS, Wegman DH, Baron SL, Sokas RK, eds. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011 Jan; :315-334
Occupational injuries are caused by acute exposure in the workplace to physical agents, such as mechanical energy, electricity, chemicals, and ionizing radiation, or from the suddden 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 electrocutions. Resultant injuries include fractures, lacerations, abrasions, burns, amputations, poisoning, and damage to internal organs. Occupational and onooccupational injuries represent a serious public health problem (Box 15-1). More than 5,000 workers died from occupational injuries in the United States in 2008. Another 3.5 million workers sustained nonfatal injuries in 2008; this estimate is conservative because it relies on employer reporting, excludes important groups of workers (such as workers who are self-employed and workers on small farms), and may miss counting many cases. An estimated 3.4 million workers were treated in emergency departments for work-related injuries and illnesses in 2004, with approximately 2% of them being hospitalized immediately or transferred to another hospital, such as a trauma or burn center. Although these data include illnesses, more than 90% are injuries. The direct cost of serious occupational injuries in the United States in 2007 was estimated at $53 billion, and amount that includes only wages and medical payments to workers whose inuuries resulted in more than 6 days away from work.