Surveillance of injury at work is beset with problems of method and definition. As a result, national agencies have widely varying estimates of the number of fatal work injuries in the United States. One plausible method for identifying fatal work injuries is to use the Place of Injury variable, which is entered on all US death certificates but is not encoded by the National Center for Health Statistics. To use this method, one would assume that work injuries largely occur at “typical work sites,” ie, places coded as industrial, farm, and mine and quarry. Data to test this method were derived from the National Traumatic Occupational Fatality data base maintained by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Analysis of this data base showed that work-related fatal injuries mostly occur in places where many non-workrelated injuries also occur. Only about one third of fatal work injuries took place at locations coded as industrial, farm, and mine and quarry. As a method for identifying fatal work injuries, the Place of Injury variable appears to have little value.
©1989 The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine