A prospective survey of patients attending the major Accident and Emergency Department in Aberdeen was undertaken. This department serves a population of 500,000 and sees some 50% of all accidents in the region. All work-related injuries were identified and information relating to the circumstances of the accident, injury sustained, and treatment required was sought. Work-related injuries accounted for 16.5% of new patients attending the department. The commonest injury type was a laceration to a finger. Three hundred and eighty diagnostic X-rays were undertaken and a total of 910 treatments were required over a 27-day period. On an annual basis, it is estimated that some 5100 radiographs and 12,300 medical treatments would be required for work-related accidents. It is estimated that 30% of injuries to the hands and feet would have been prevented by the wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment. The majority of workplace accidents were correctly referred to A&E and any efforts to reduce this workload must concentrate on preventive measures in the workplace. This paper suggests that documenting work-related accidents and determining targets for preventive action would reduce the number of attendances at A&E units with a potential significant saving for industry and the National Health Service.
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