Accidents in oz – one of the leading causes of injury

In 2011, accidents (unintentional injuries) were the fifth most likely cause of death for US citizens, being noted as having been the cause of death for 122,777 people. A study from the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that accidents and injuries are most likely to occur in the home, with 30 percent of all injuries occurring within the injured individual’s own property. An OECD report, Occupational Accidents in OECD countries, found that international variations in numbers of accidents occurring in the workplace were fairly minimal, and Australia is on a par with the US. This article will proceed on that premise. 

The same study found that only 16 percent of people then went to a doctor, a figure that was higher for those in possession of private health care insurance. Though only 5 percent of injured individuals – around a third of those who visited a doctor – required attention in hospital, the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Injury in the United States: 2007 Chartbook found that a third of all visits to emergency departments were due to injuries. It is therefore worth considering hospital cover if for no other reason than this.

Falls were by far and away the most likely cause of injury in the home, accounting for the vast majority of accidents. In the UK records of Deaths registered to Government in England and Wales, 2010, around 20 percent of all falls were from steps or stairs, although the vast majority of falls were ‘unspecified’ (some 78 percent). Participants in the 2005 meeting of the International Collaborative Effort on Injury Statistics found that Australian over-65s were around half as likely to injure themselves by falling than American over-65s.

A surprisingly small number of deaths in that same study were attributed to ‘exposure to smoke, fire and flames’. The cause of death – whose official label is ‘X00-X09’ – counted for a relatively low 237 deaths in the UK in 2011. This is in comparison to over 1,500 deaths as a result of poisoning and exposure to noxious substances. Similarly small was the number of deaths in the UK attributed to ‘lack of food’, with only 6 recorded incidents of starvation.

The US study demonstrated that between the ages of 70 and 85, deaths due to unintentional accidents rise by 600 percent to seven times the figure of 40 deaths per 100,000 population for 69-year-olds. Poisoning is also up from the 1985 genesis of the US study, having doubled as a cause of death among US citizens over 25 years. Falls have also steadily increased, although incidents involving firearms are down from a high of 15 deaths per 100,000 in 1995 to 10 deaths per 100,000 in 2006.
In the Australian workplace, things are quite different. Almost three quarters of accident and injury claimants are male, with manufacturing and construction taking most of the hit. Women were more likely to injure themselves working in the retail or communication sectors.#

All studies conclude that accidents are an expected part of daily life – but are almost entirely preventable. Despite this, they continue to account for around 8 percent of total healthcare spending worldwide.

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