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Y2015-S1 Safety study on serious accidents among working age adults

The purpose of this theme-based investigation was to provide new knowledge on serious accidents among working age adults (aged 18 to 67) in situations unaffected by alcohol or other intoxicants. The investigation involved the closer examination of serious accidents that occurred within a period of around one year. The material consisted of two sets of research data: deaths in 2013, and serious injuries between December 2012 and December 2013. An injury was considered serious if it required a continuous treatment period of at least 3 weeks. A wide range of register information for various public authorities and other parties was combined during the investigation.

In 2013, a total of 1,265 working age persons died in Finland as a result of accidents. 75% of them were excluded from the study due to the consumption of alcohol and other intoxicants. The final sample consisted of 288 deaths. The final sample of injured persons consisted of 352 people.

The most common causes of death were traffic accidents, falls and drowning. In terms of injuries, falls were clearly the largest category, while traffic accidents were the second largest. A third of all accidents that led to death and more than a half of accidents that caused an injury took place at home or in its immediate vicinity.

The investigation assessed the functional capacity and risk behaviour of those involved in accidents. Clear differences emerged between accident categories. Among the deaths caused by a fall, 83% involved people with diminished functional capacity. The corresponding figure for people who died in traffic accidents was 20%.

The data suggests that a sober, fit person of working age, who does not engage in risky behaviour, is highly capable of avoiding serious accidents. If such a person is involved in an accident, it is most likely to be a traffic accident.

The Safety Investigation Authority recommends that

• together with the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Statistics Finland should develop procedures for collecting and publishing information necessary for the prevention of accidents.

• the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health should include home safety checks in the tasks of the social welfare and health services. Professionals making home visits, next-of-kin and residents should be provided with a simple, easily accessible checklist covering the most common types of accident.

• the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health should ensure that the personnel of home service, home care and care institutions are trained and instructed in how to identify patients at risk of suffocation and take preventive measures in the areas of food quality and sufficient monitoring. In particular, the personnel of care institutions should be trained to remove foreign bodies from food.

• the Finnish Center for Integrity in Sports (FINCIS) should assume responsibility for developing the safety of sports and physical exercise and prepare operating models suitable for all categories of sports, for disseminating sports-specific safety information and developing safety.

Y2015-S1 report (in finnish) (pdf, 0.84 Mt)

Published 22.9.2016