Posts Tagged ‘injuries’

Americans die younger [ht: ja] than people in other high-income countries—by more than 2 years!


According to a study by Andrew Fenelon, Li-Hui Chen, Susan P. Baker just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (unfortunately gated), American men and women can only look forward to a life expectancy of 76.4 and 81.2 years, respectively, compared with the 78.6 and 83.4 years of their peers abroad.

The question is, why? The authors of the study focus on injuries, which are the leading cause of death for Americans between 1 and 44 years of age. Among injuries, those responsible for the greatest number of deaths are drug poisonings, firearm-related injuries, and motor vehicle crashes.

The injury causes of death accounted for 48% (1.02 years) of the life expectancy gap among men. Firearm-related injuries accounted for 21% of the gap, drug poisonings 14%, and MVT crashes 13%. Among women, these causes accounted for 19% (0.42 years) of the gap, with 4% from firearm-related injuries, 9% from drug poisonings, and 6% from MVT crashes. The 3 injury causes accounted for 6% of deaths among US men and 3% among US women.

Perhaps even more important, the authors of the study found systematic variation in injury deaths across countries, with relatively high rates in the United States. Therefore, they conclude,

Although injury prevention represents an important means to improve life expectancy, the existence of predictable international patterns of injury mortality may suggest that these causes of death reflect broad factors that go beyond individual policies.

In other words, there’s something seriously wrong in the United States, which is causing Americans to die young.


Now that the semester is over, I was doing a bit of channel-surfing and noticed that both Ax Men (in which “falling trees, bone-crushing equipment, razor sharp lines, lack of attention and sometimes just freak accidents can kill a logger in an instant”) and Deadliest Catch (“the fishermen who risk their lives in one of the most dangerous jobs around”) are still on TV. And they’re right: according to the AFL-CIO’s Death on the Job [pdf], logging and fishing have the highest fatality rates of any occupation.


But what we don’t find on TV are shows about the occupations with the highest rates of non-fatal injuries (police procedurals, in which the “vics” are the only ones ever injured, and Nurse Jackie, in which the injuries are mostly self-inflicted, don’t count): nursing, producing manufactured homes and trailers, local police protection, and working in iron foundries.

I guess we just prefer to watch workers die.



According to Death on the Job [pdf], a new report from the AFL-CIO,

In 2012, 4,628 workers lost their lives on the job as a result of traumatic injuries, according to final fatality data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Each day in this country, an average of 13 workers die because of job injuries—women and men who go to work never to return home to their families and loved ones. This does not include those workers who die from occupational diseases, estimated to be 50,000 each year—an average of 137 deaths each day. Chronic occupational diseases receive less attention, because most are not detected for years after workers are exposed to toxic chemicals.

In 2012, more than 3.8 million workers across all industries, including state and local government, had work-related injuries and illnesses that were reported by employers, with 3 million injuries and illnesses reported in private industry. Due to limitations in the current injury reporting system and widespread underreporting of workplace injuries, this number understates the problem. The true toll is estimated to be two to three times greater—or 7.6 million to 11.4 million injuries and illnesses a year.

North Dakota had the highest fatality rate in the nation (17.7 per 100,000 workers), followed by Wyoming (12.2), Alaska (8.9), Montana (7.3) and West Virginia (6.9). The lowest state fatality rate (1.4 per 100,000 workers) was reported in Massachusetts, followed by Rhode Island (1.7), Connecticut (2.1), and New Hampshire and Washington (2.2).