Occupation-Related Burns: Five-Year Experience of an Urban Burn Center

  • Guidotti, Tee L.;
  • Inancsi, Wayne


Mortality for burns in the United States has not improved appreciably since 1955 among men, and the rate of decline among women appears to be slowing. Although one-quarter of all serious burns result from occupational accidents, few systematic epidemiologic studies of occupational burns have been conducted. We reviewed 232 cases of occupational burns among the 1,076 civilians seen as outpatients or admitted to the Regional Burn Treatment Center of the University of California Medical Center in San Diego from 1977 to 1982. Scalds were the most common type of burn overall and in women, but flame-related burns resulted in the highest average percent body surface area burned and were more common in men; tar-related, flame-related, chemical, and electrical burns affected men almost exclusively. Electrical burns were disproportionately severe, as measured by time lost from work, fatalities, and permanent disability, in relation to their frequency and amount of body surface area involved. Contact burns were more frequent in younger persons. Hispanics were over represented compared with their representation in the general population. Occupational associations included scalds due to hot grease among restaurant workers, tar burns among roofing workers, electrical burns among farm workers, and injuries reflecting hazards to firefighters and electricians. The number of days off work after hospitalization correlated closely with the number of days hospitalized, which in turn correlated significantly with percentage of body surface area burned. The typical burn victim in San Diego is a white male aged 21-30 who suffers a scald or flame-related burn as a semi- or unskilled worker, who spends 2 weeks in hospital and is off work for another 2 weeks, but who has no permanent disability. Hispanic men and roofing workers appear to be at excess risk. Occupation-related burns are potentially fatal but usually avoidable. More attention should be paid to prevention.


JOURNAL: J Occup Med. 1987; 29(9): 730-733.

Note: Journal of Occupational Medicine.

NLOM ID#: 88061752 .

Publication #: 88061752

This document was extracted from the CDC-NIOSH Epidemiology of Farm Related Injuries: Bibliography With Abstracts, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

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