Treadmill burn prevention – time for a new approach?

Ms Grace Morcom1, Dr Edward Gibson1, Ms Linda Quinn1, Dr Amy Jeeves1, Dr Michelle Lodge1, Mr Darren Molony1, Dr Rebecca Cooksey1, Mr Bernard Carney1

1Women’s And Children’s Hospital



Treadmills are a popular fitness tool that Australians use to stay active in the convenience of their homes. Unfortunately, these devices pose a serious risk to children when they fail to appreciate the danger of burns from the conveyer belt. In 2008, a public health campaign was undertaken to address this issue. Whilst success of the campaign has been widely reported, this unit has continued to see a number of treadmill injuries each year and this study seeks to examine the impact of the campaign on the incidence of treadmill injuries treated by the unit.


A retrospective audit of treadmill related burn injuries managed by the unit between January 2006-March 2017 was undertaken. The local burns database was interrogated for information pertaining to the number and nature of the treadmill injuries.


96 cases of treadmill-related burns were reported during the study period. 77 cases occurred in children under 5. The upper limb was most commonly injured. Year-to-year case numbers were steady with an average of 8.5 cases per year.


This study is consistent with other research, with the predominance of injuries occurring in children under five and the upper-limb most commonly affected. However, in contrast to other studies, the number of treadmill injuries has not decreased since the push for more public awareness suggesting that the safety campaign may not have been as successful in our population. It is unclear why this is the case and further research into this area may be necessary.

Grace is a final year medical student at the University of Adelaide. She has a passion for public health and burns care.

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