Statement of Purpose Product-related injuries are known to be common in Sweden though given that they commonly occur within the home and leisure sector there is a lack of official data and in particular a lack of knowledge regarding the underlying incident and the product involved. Regarding which products most commonly cause injuries, there have been concerns that products sold online and directly to the consumer from outside of the EU dominate the injury-causing products. Such products, it is feared, often fail to adhere to standardization criteria (CE markings) and, given the online sale, the buyer receives no practical instructions from sellers, having to rely on written safety instructions. Given the continuous increase in online shopping, not least from outside of the EU, there are fears that product-related injuries will increase.
Methods/Approach A telephone survey to a representative sample of the Swedish population over the age of 18 (n=3099) was performed during 2021 in which respondents answered questions relating to the most serious product-related injury that had occurred in their household during the previous 12 months. Data was collected and analyzed from the perspective of the product, rather than the injury.
Results In total, 1140 product-related injuries were reported (48% of all respondents reported a product-related injury), of which 90% did not require hospitalization. Amongst adults the most common type of products were kitchen products (e.g. knifes, mandolins or food processors) and DIY products (e.g. electric tools, hand tools, chainsaws, etc.). Among children, furniture and transport-related products (e.g. bicycles and scooters) dominated. In over 65% of the cases the injury-causing product was new and the injury occurred the first time it was used. In practically all cases the product was bought from a Swedish company and in over 60% of cases the product was bought in a physical store rather than online.
Conclusions Product-related injuries seem to be very common in the Swedish population although the resulting injury is most often minor. Contrary to what was previously thought, injury-causing products were predominantly bought from Swedish companies meaning that it was highly likely that the product adhered to safety standardizations. Also, despite the data collection period occurring during the Covid-19 pandemic meaning that more online shopping occurred than previously, a majority of the products were bought in a physical store therefore enabling the customer to receive more comprehensive safety instructions.
Significance It is well-known that information is a poor tool for injury prevention and that passive safety interventions are more effective in reducing injury. Despite this, product safety is often centered on information, not least in order for companies to legally be free from responsibility. The results in this study clearly show that from an injury prevention perspective, new methods need to be developed in order to minimize the risk of injury when the consumer is unaccustomed with the product.