7.3.4. Unintentional injuries - overview by sector
Unintentional injuries can be assigned to three main
Transport / Traffic
Home, leisure and sports
For the area of home, leisure and sports the political
administrative responsibility is not as clear as it is for the other two
sectors as it is still distributed among several governmental units, e.g.
health sector, consumer safety, social welfare, etc.). This makes is difficult
to attribute competencies and requires comprehensive coordination.
Distinguished by sector, work place accidents account for
4% of unintentional fatalities, transport accidents for 33%, and almost two
thirds of fatalities are attributed to the “residual category” of home, leisure
and sports accidents. This categorisation is not completely clear-cut but
provides a useful orientation for cross-sector injury prevention by linking the
strong vertical sectors of work place and road safety with the horizontal WHO
approach to injury prevention (Figure 7.6).
Figure 7.6. Unintentional fatal
injuries by sector, EU27
While the magnitude of the injury epidemic is alarming,
the location of the vast majority of injuries may cause even more concern. The
reality is that EU citizens are more at risk of being injured, also fatally,
either at home, at school, during leisure time and sports activities than in
any other location.
the WHO definition, a transport injury event is an incident involving a
transport device and resulting in injury. The transport area can be further
specified either by the vehicles used (train, cars, two-wheelers) or by the
area (road, water, etc.) where the accident has occurred.
Road transport is one of the most complex and most
dangerous systems people have to deal with on a daily basis. Almost 50 000 road
fatalities (definition according to WHO,
2004) and 1.7 million injured road users according to police records are
the recent toll of road traffic in the EU. Road fatalities in the EU27 range
from 4 per 100 000 inhabitants in Malta to 22 in Lithuania which indicates the potential for further reduction of road traffic mortality in some
Member States (Figure 7.7).
Figure 7.7. Road fatalities and
injured road users
More than half of road fatalities are passengers or
drivers of cars but vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists and
motorcyclists) account for at least 40% of road fatalities (Figure 7.8).Even
the high share of vulnerable road users in these absolute figures is likely to
underestimate the real risk of pedestrian and two-wheeler traffic
participation. The relationship between risk and exposure has recently been
explored in the DG TREN SafetyNet project (http://www.erso.eu/safetynet/content/safetynet.htm).
Figure 7.8. Fatalities per road
More information about circumstances and external causes
of road accidents for the identification and quantification of road safety
problems throughout the European roads can be obtained from the European Road Accident
Database (CARE) and the International Road Traffic and Accident Database (IRTAD) - only by
members of these databases - and in the future also from the EU Injury Database
According to an assessment made by the police, the
majority of injured persons at road traffic accidents only sustain slight
injuries (Figure 7.9).
Figure 7.9. Non–fatal road traffic
accidents per age group and injury severity
According to data aggregated by EuroStat and the WHO, more
than 6 000 work place fatalities are recorded per year in the EU27. They range
from 0.3 per 100 000 inhabitants in the United Kingdom to 3.2 in Portugal. Also the rate of non-fatal work place accidents shows a significant variation
between Member States due to differences in national definitions and
registration practices (Figure 7.10).
Figure 7.10. Fatalities and injured
due to work-related accidents
Half of all work place fatalities occur in two branches:
the construction (30%) and the manufacturing branch (20%). These two “leading”
branches are followed by the transport sector (18% of all work place
fatalities) which indicates the need for a close cooperation of work place and
traffic safety institutions (Figure 7.11).
Figure 7.11. Fatalities at work by
economic activity, EU15
More information about the socio-demography and
circumstances of work place accidents can be found in the European statistics on
accidents at work (ESAW) and the WHO Health for All database (HFA-DB). Within
the framework of ESAW only harmonised data on accidents at work of EU15 was
collected. The extension to the other Member States is still ongoing.
Weaknesses of this system and problems with comparability of the national
figures are described in Chapter 6.2. Figure 7.12. Non-fatal work place accidents by
severity, EU15 + NO shows the severity of non-fatal work place accidents in
terms of lost working days.
Figure 7.12. Non-fatal work place
accidents by severity, EU15 + NO
Home and leisure
The identification of home and leisure accidents in the
available injury registers is not without controversy as they do not represent
a category of their own in ICD statistics. Their scope can be estimated by
considering all unintentional fatalities that are neither traffic nor work
Calculated in this way, the average rate of fatal home and
leisure accidents in the EU27 is 22 per 100,000 residents and is more than
twice as high as the mean rate of fatal road traffic accidents. In absolute
terms every year more than 100 000 EU citizens die from home and leisure
accidents and 32 million injured people need to be treated in hospital (Figure
Figure 7.13. Fatalities and injured
due to home and leisure accidents per country
These numbers make home and leisure the setting in which
most injuries happen and for which capacities for prevention are least
developed. Home and leisure accidents also comprise sport injuries that account
for about 18% of this injury sector (Figure 7.14).
Figure 7.14. Non fatal (hospital
treated patients) home and leisure accidents per activity at the time of injury
Injury surveillance in the home and leisure area is still
neglected in most EU Member States which in turn hampers respective injury
research. A prevention-oriented „all injury“ surveillance system such as the EU
Injury Database (IDB) is currently operated by only thirteen European countries.
This is surprising as the establishment of specially designed injury
surveillance systems is widely advocated as a prerequisite for the development
and evaluation of injury prevention strategies. The IDB provides a variety of
indicators on hospital treated injuries, on both inpatients and outpatients,
and for the purpose of injury prevention in particular important circumstances
such as activity at the time of injury, type of sports, injury mechanism, place
of occurrence etc. (see also “IDB” in Chapter 6.2).