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Journal Article


Sharwood LN, Mueller H, Ivers RQ, Vaikuntam B, Driscoll T, Middleton JW. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018; 15(10): e15102121.


Agency for Clinical Innovation, Chatswood, NSW 2067, Australia.


(Copyright © 2018, MDPI: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute)






This study aimed to describe the epidemiological characteristics, the occupational context, and the cost of hospitalised work-related traumatic spinal injuries, across New South Wales, Australia. A record-linkage study of hospitalised cases of work-related spinal injury (ICD10-AM code U73.0 or workers compensation) was conducted. Study period 2013⁻2016. Eight hundred and twenty-four individuals sustained work-related spinal injuries; 86.2% of whom were males and had a mean age of 46.6 years. Falls led to 50% of the injuries; predominantly falls from building/structures, ladders or between levels. Falls occurred predominantly in the construction industry (78%). Transport crashes caused 31% of injuries and 24% in heavy vehicles. Half of all the transport injuries occurred 'off road'. The external cause was coded as 'non-specific work activity' in 44.5% of cases; missing in 11.5%. Acute care bed days numbered at 13,302; total cost $19,500,000. High numbers of work-related spinal injuries occurred in the construction industry; particularly falling from a height. Off-road transport-related injuries were significant and likely unaddressed by 'on-road' prevention policies. Medical record documentation was insufficient in injury mechanism and context specificity. Workers in the construction industry or those using vehicles off-road were at high risk of spinal injury, suggesting inefficient systems approaches or ineffective prevention policies. Reducing the use of non-specific external cause codes in patients' medical records would improve the measurement of policy effectiveness.

Language: en


record-linkage data; spinal trauma; workplace injuries


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