Purpose Little is known about work-related traumatic brain injuries (WRTBI). This study describes non-fatal WRTBIs treated in US emergency departments (ED) from 1998 through 2007.
Methods Non-fatal WRTBIs were identified from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System occupational supplement (NEISS-Work) using the diagnoses of concussion, internal organ injury to the head and skull fracture. WRTBI rates and rate ratios were calculated, and the trend in rates was assessed.
Results An estimated 586 600 (95% CI=±150 000) WRTBIs were reported during the 10-year period at a rate of 4.3 (CI=±1.1) per 10 000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers (1 FTE=2000 h per year). From 1998 through 2007, the rate of WRTBIs increased at an average of 0.21 per 10 000 FTE per year (p<0.0001) and the rate of fall-related WRTBIs increased at an average of 0.10 per 10 000 FTE (p<0.0001). During the same period, the annual rate of WRTBIs resulting in hospitalisation increased 0.04 per 10 000 FTE (p<0.0001). Ten percent of WRTBIs were hospitalised, compared with hospitalisation of 2% all NEISS-Work injuries. Also, workers with highest fall-related TBI rates per 10 000 FTE were the youngest (2.4; CI=±1.4) and oldest (55 and older) workers (1.9; CI=±0.8).
Conclusions Non-fatal WRTBIs are one of the most serious workplace injuries among ED-treated work-related injuries. Non-fatal WRTBIs are much more likely to result in hospitalisation compared with other types of injuries. The upward trend of WRTBI rates from 1998 through 2007 underscore the need for more directed effective prevention methods to reduce WRTBI injuries.
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