Epidemiology of work-related burn injuries presenting to burn centres in Australia and New Zealand.

Dr Judith McInnes1, Miss  Heather Cleland2, Dr  Lincoln Tracy1, Ms Anne Darton3, Professor Fiona Wood4, Ms Tracey Perrett5, Professor Belinda Gabbe1

1Monash University, Melbourne, Australia, 2Victorian Adult Burns Service, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Australia, 3NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation Statewide Burn Injury Service Network, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards, Australia, 4Burn Injury Research Unit, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, 5New Zealand National Burn Centre, Middlemore Hospital, Otahuhu, Auckland, New Zealand


Background:While burn injuries to workers can have a devastating impact, knowledge of the epidemiology of work-related burn injuries in Australia and New Zealand is limited.

Purpose: To describe the epidemiological characteristics of work-related burn injuries in Australia and New Zealand, and to compare these with characteristics of burn injuries that are not work-related.

Methods:Adult burn injury data, 2009-2016, were extracted from the Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand, and classified as work-related or non-work-related. Descriptive statistics were used to describe demographic, injury, management and outcome characteristics for both groups. Differences between groups were assessed using Chi-square and Wilcoxon rank-sum tests as appropriate.

Results:Of 10,574 adult patients treated in specialist burn centres in Australia and New Zealand, 2009-2016, 17% had sustained work-related burns. Most work-related burn cases were male (85%), less than 35 years of age (53%), had been burnt by flame (33%), scald (30%) or chemicals (17%), and had occurred at trade and service areas (49%). On comparison, proportions of chemical, scald and electrical burns were greater for work-related than for non-work-related burns, with this being most marked for chemical and electrical burns (17% vs. 3% and 7% vs. 1%, respectively). Most non-work-related burns occurred at home (63%).

Conclusions:Almost one in five cases of working aged people admitted to Australian and New Zealand burns centres was work-related. The profile of work-related cases differed markedly to non-work-related cases. Through identification of vulnerable groups, this study informs Occupational Health and Safety policy to minimise occupational burn risk.


Judith McInnes has been a researcher in the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine at Monash University for the past 11 years, and completed her PhD through the University in 2017. Judith is currently a Research Fellow with the Burns Registry of Australia and New Zealand (BRANZ).

Recent Comments