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A Retrospective Evaluation of Injuries to Australian Urban Firefighters (2003 to 2012): Injury Types, Locations, and Causal Mechanisms

Taylor, Nigel A. S. PhD; Dodd, Megan J. BSc; Taylor, Elizabeth A. MEd; Donohoe, Alison M. BSc

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: July 2015 - Volume 57 - Issue 7 - p 757–764
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000438
Original Articles

Objective: Benchmark data were sought for evaluating injury trends within Australian firefighters.

Methods: Work-related injury data from Australia's largest urban fire and rescue organization were analyzed (2003 to 2012), with an emphasis on classification (occurrence, mechanism, agency, nature, and location) and demographic details.

Results: Firefighters were injured on 6997 occasions (177 injuries per annum per 1000 full-time employees). The largest causal mechanism was muscular stress (74 injuries per 1000 full-time employees annually), with 62.1% of those incidents involving materials handling and slips, trips, and falls. No single mechanism could explain more than 20% of the injuries. The principal injury type involved sprains and strains. The most commonly injured sites were the knee, lower back, shoulder, and ankle.

Conclusions: These observations provide a basis for intervention strategies that target sprains and strains associated with materials handling and slips, trips, and falls.

From the Centre for Human and Applied Physiology (Dr NAS Taylor and Ms EA Taylor), School of Medicine, University of Wollongong; and Health & Safety (Mss Dodd and Donohoe), Fire & Rescue New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Address correspondence to: Nigel A.S. Taylor, PhD, Centre for Human and Applied Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia (nigel_taylor@uow.edu.au).

This research was funded by Fire & Rescue New South Wales (Sydney, Australia). Alison Donohoe and Megan Dodd are employees of Fire & Rescue New South Wales. There are no other potential conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2015 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine