Injuries due to fires, flames, and hot substances at work in Massachusetts, 2003-2004. Deaths, hospital discharges, & emergency department visits.
Injuries caused by exposure to fire, flames or a hot substances (FFHS injuries) can have a variety of different medical diagnoses, including thermal burns, non-burn injuries to the skin or underlying tissue, nerve or sensory organ damage, other systemic effects, smoke inhalation, or carbon monoxide poisoning. The majority of injuries, however, are burns. Nationally, close to 434,000 burn injuries occur each year. Of these, an estimated 42% (183,000) occur in the workplace and account for approximately 3.3% of all work-related injuries reported annually (Smith GS, 2005). While burns account for a relatively small percentage of the overall occupational injury burden, the costs incurred for burn treatment and rehabilitation are disproportionately high (MDPH-OHSP, 2005; Baggs J, 2002). In Massachusetts, average hospitalization charges for work-related burns were higher than for all other work-related injury types; twice as high as the next most costly (internal organ injuries and amputations) and nearly three times the overall average charge for hospitalized work-related injuries (MDPH-OHSP, 2005). Further, work-related burns result in additional economic and substantial human consequences for injured workers, their families, employers, and society at large. In 2004, two-thirds of work-related burn cases reported by Massachusetts' employers involved three or more lost days of work (BLS SOII, 2006). Washington State reported an average cost per workers' compensation claim of $50,194 (median of $15,648) for hospitalized work-related burns and an average of 135 days (median 38 days) of lost work for these severe burns (Curwick CC, 2006). Key Findings: Work-related injuries arising from exposure to fire, flames, or hot substances ("FFHS") are a serious public health concern in Massachusetts as they are in the nation as a whole. In Massachusetts during 2003 and 2004, there were 5 deaths, 78 injuries resulting in hospitalizations (1.3 per 100,000 full-time workers), and 4,413 injuries resulting in emergency department (ED) visits (72.9 per 100,000 full-time workers) caused by exposure to FFHS at work. All of the deaths were related to fires or fire-related explosions. Three of the five fatally injured workers were employed in the construction industry. Among the non-fatal FFHS injuries, burns were the most common type of injury, accounting for 72% of the FFHS injuries resulting in hospitalizations and 82% of the FFHS injuries resulting in ED visits. Of the hospitalized burns, 39% were 3rd degree and 55% were 2nd degree burns; whereas 1.4% of the ED burns were 3rd degree and 55% were 2nd degree burns. Rates of work-related FFHS injuries resulting in hospitalizations and ED visits differed by sex, race/ethnicity, and age: 1) Males had higher rates of FFHS injuries resulting in hospitalization (2.1 vs. 0.3 injuries per 100,000 full time workers) and ED visits (83.0 vs. 59.8 injuries per 100,000 workers) than females. 2) Black workers had higher rates of FFHS injuries resulting in hospitalizations than white workers (3.2 vs. 1.1 injuries per 100,000 full time workers). 3) Hispanic workers had higher rates of FFHS injuries resulting in ED visits than white workers (135.0 vs. 64.2 injuries per 100,000 full time workers). 4) Younger workers (15-24 years) had a higher rate of FHHS injuries resulting in ED visits than older workers 25- 44 years (222.4 vs. 70.1 injuries per 100,000 full time workers).
Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Occupational Health Surveillance Program, 250 Washington Street, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02108
Injuries due to fires, flames, and hot substances at work in Massachusetts, 2003-2004. Deaths, hospital discharges, & emergency department visits