Injuries are the most common cause of death from the first year of life through middle age. More than 180,000 people die in the USA from injury each year. Worldwide the annual injury death toll is more than 4.8 million (not counting those related to war). For every injury death in the U.S., there are about 6 others who suffer catastrophic permanent disabilities.
Serious injuries have high costs. More than 35,000,000 people are treated in emergency departments in the USA each year due to injuries. Not only are there treatment and rehabilitation costs but injuries often lead to devastating long-term personal, familial, financial, and social consequences.
Good information is needed to make sound decisions
Making policy and practical decisions about safety requires knowing the factors that contribute to injury occurrence. Injury prevention usually requires applying a combination of education about risks, engineering and human factors, and enforcement of rules and laws. Making a sound decision requires drawing and balancing information from many fields. Can a particular event that leads to an injury be prevented? If the event cannot be prevented, what are the ways that the impact of the event can be minimized? How much will intervening cost. How much will non-intervention cost? Who should be responsible for the costs of intervening or for the costs of care and rehabilitation when injuries are not prevented?
The purpose of SafetyLit is to allow its users to make sensible decisions about injury prevention; including current approaches, new concepts being evaluated, and methods that have been tried and failed. This knowledge can save precious time and money by avoiding the redevelopment of already established methods or attempting known failures. Over the past 20 years, there has been real progress toward making existing information available to professionals and to the public that supports or refutes research claims. Unfortunately, this information in the form of journal articles, technical reports, etc. can be very difficult to locate. SafetyLit strives to make this knowledge more accessible.
Injury Causes and Prevention
Common injury causes are motor vehicle crashes, natural disasters, interpersonal violence, fires, sports and recreation, and work-related incidents. A few everyday ways that injuries are successfully prevented include building fire codes, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, air bags in automobiles, storm or wildfire warning systems, etc. Some ways injuries are prevented involve changing or preventing the event that leads to harm (anti-lock brakes can avoid a crash), others prevent injuries by lessening the impact of an event that was not avoided (airbags and seat-belts have their effect when a crash occurs), other prevention mechanisms involve changing personal behaviors such as through education (parenting classes about child-safe homes); laws (speed limits in school zones, laws and regulations concerning underage drinking and the cost of alcohol); regulations and codes (fire resistant buildings, evacuation route traffic controls).
While it is not reasonable to think about preventing all injuries; essentially all serious injuries can be mitigated without sacrificing the thrill and enjoyment of life when a combination of approaches are applied to the problem. For example, few would argue that the modern protections afforded to race car drivers have made their sport less exciting. While a car may crash spectacularly, the driver will likely survive and often can walk away from the car. If injuries from a high-speed fiery crash can be prevented, it follows that most other kinds of serious injuries are also avoidable.
Injuries are not unavoidable "accidents" that just "happen". They are preventable or may be greatly decreased in severity by planning. Prevention methods have a strong scientific foundation and information about prevention may be found in the publications of many professional disciplines.