There were approximately two non-fatal workplace inhalation injuries per 10,000 workers treated in U.S. emergency departments from 2014 through 2017, according to a new research report.
Researchers with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that more than half of these incidents occurred among men, but the injury rates between women and men were comparable.
Rates are in decline
Twenty years ago, a NIOSH study found a higher rate of workplace inhalation injuries in U.S. emergency departments than in medical reports from Canada and the United Kingdom. The more recent study shows a decline in those earlier numbers and that this decline was inconsistent between sexes.
Male inhalation injury rates decreased 48% while female rates decreased by 19% when compared with the earlier study.
Workers between the ages of 25 and 34 had the largest percentage of inhalation injuries, but workers under age 25 were more likely than older workers to have a workplace inhalation injury.
Conducted as a comparison study
NIOSH researchers defined a workplace inhalation injury as “an event that required treatment in a U.S. emergency department for inhaling a harmful substance while at work.”
Then they used NEISS-Work, a nationwide surveillance system, administered by NIOSH and the Consumer Product Safety Commission, to identify all nonfatal workplace inhalation injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments from 2014 through 2017.
The research was conducted as a comparison study to see what had transpired since the original study was done in 2000.
More research needed to determine reason for decline
Lead author of the study and NIOSH research epidemiologist Kitty Hendricks said that while workplace inhalation injuries seem to be decreasing, additional research is needed to understand why.
The decrease in these incidents could be due to improvements in interventions or workers receiving medical treatment outside of emergency departments, but further research is needed to know for sure.