THE CASE FOR INJURY PREVENTION

Everyone has a role in injury prevention – working collaboratively to implement evidence-based solutions will save lives and prevent disabilities.

AT HOME
ON THE ROAD
AT WORK
AT PLAY

INJURIES CAN HAPPEN ANYWHERE

WHAT IS AN INJURY?

An injury is any physical damage to the body. This can be the result of excessive force, heat, electricity, chemicals, or radiation. Injury can also be caused by a lack of energy, such as heat or oxygen.

 

Injuries can be classified as inflicted, either self-inflicted or inflicted by another person, or unintentional. It is sometimes unclear if the injury was inflicted or not.

 

Common causes of injury include falls, motor vehicle crashes, poisoning, drowning, assaults, sport or recreation-related injury, and self-harm.

 

Injuries can be mild, such as scrapes or bruises, or more severe, such as brain injury, resulting in disability or death. Common injuries include cuts and bruises, burns and scalds, fractures, sprains and strains, and concussion.

How do we know what we know?

The BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit (BCIRPU) monitors
information on injuries, including:
 
  • How injuries happen
  • Type of injuries
  • Who are injured
  • Why injuries happen
  • When injuries happen
BCIRPU researchers study these data and research how individuals, workplaces, governments, and societies can work to prevent these injuries from happening.
 
Learn more about injury data:


Learn more about BCIRPU’s data surveillance:

HOW ARE BRITISH COLUMBIANS GETTING INJURED?

The top 5 causes of injury, for all ages:

HOSPITALIZATIONS*

Falls

DEATHS*

Poisoning

Assault

 

 

*as of 2017/18-2019/20

Suffocation

 

 

*as of 2014-2018

As of 2019/20: The leading causes of hospitalization are:

 

    • Falls among children and older adults
    • Transport-related among adults 25 to 34 years
    • Self-harm among young adults 15 to 24 years

As of 2018: The leading causes of injury death are:

 

    • Transport-related for children and youth
    • Unintentional poisoning for youth and adults
    • Falls for older adult

WHAT IS THE BURDEN OF INJURY IN BRITISH COLUMBIA?

Injuries exact a huge cost, both in lives & lost potential, and in financial costs.

More than:

  • 2,000 British Columbians die from injury each year
  • 35,000 British Columbians visit the hospital for an injury each year
  • 8,000 British Columbians are left with a permanent disability

2,000 people is the equivalent of 5 jetliners crashing with all lives lost each year or 1 person dying every 4 hours.

Injury is the leading cause of death for all British Columbians age 1 to 44 years before cancer or heart disease. 

Injuries can affect:

families

communities

schools

workplaces

Injuries among children, youth, and young adults can result in years of lost potential.

Potential Years of Life Lost (PYLL) captures the number of years of life lost due to death from an adverse event.

 

Preventable Years of Life Lost (PrYLL) is calculated in the same way as PYLL, except it considers only preventable causes of deaths.

 

Avoidable deaths is a term used to speak to the effectiveness of health care, health promotion and disease prevention policies in preventing premature deaths. It counts the number of deaths for every 100,000 people that could potentially have been avoided through better treatment and prevention efforts.

Disability-Adjusted Life Year (DALY) quantifies the burden of a negative event on society (e.g., natural disasters, injuries, illnesses). In essence, one DALY is one year of healthy life lost as a result of death or disability.

WHAT IS THE COST OF INJURY?

Each year, injuries cost British Columbians over $4 billion in total costs. 1
This is the equivalent of per hour, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

Total costs of injury are made up of direct and indirect costs.

  • Direct costs are the costs to the health care system, including diagnosis, treatment, continuing care, rehabilitation, and costs of injury-related death.
  • Indirect costs are the economic outputs lost because of injury-related work disability, or premature death.
Most injuries are both predictable and preventable.
 
We know we can reduce this problem.
 
Examples include:
  • Lowering speed limits on our roads to reduce the risk of injury from motor vehicle incidents.
  • The use of personal protective equipment like mouth guards, helmets, eye protection and wrist guards in sport and recreation, and work activities.
  • The presence of working smoke detectors in the home can reduce burn injuries.
  • Enacting province-wide policy on seatbelt usage has already saved countless lives.
  • Non-lethal dose packaging and child-proof containers have saved many children from poisoning.

 

BUT WE KNOW SOMETHING
IMPORTANT: 

 

INJURIES SHOULD NOT BE THOUGHT OF AS “ACCIDENTS”.

Still, we can focus our efforts to help those who are at higher risk of injury.
 
For example:
  • Males are more at risk of serious injuries than females.
  • Those that live in lower-income neighbouroods are more at risk than those living in higher-income neighbourhoods.
  • Other risk factors for injury include age, and our understanding and attitudes towards risk.

Determining and acting upon the upstream investment for injury prevention will translate to injury costs avoided and financial resources available for reallocation to other important health care areas. Evidence-based solutions are available.

WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?

A multi-strategy approach is needed to reduce the impact of injuries.

WE CAN ENGINEER AND DESIGN
We can engineer and design our roads, homes, and cities to make our environment safer— construct bike lanes, manufacture safer cars, install modifications in our homes—these can all help to prevent injury.
WE CAN CREATE LAWS
We can create laws to enforce safety measures and policies— this includes speeding tickets, bike helmet laws, and drinking and driving legislation.
WE CAN EDUCATE OURSELVES
Finally, we can educate ourselves and engage others on what we can do to prevent injuries. Injuries often happen as a direct result of the choices we make, such as wearing appropriate personal protective equipment—it takes a conscious effort to take that extra second to remind ourselves to make a different choice.

Learn more about what the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit is doing to reduce the burden of injuries

WHAT ARE WE DOING TO PREVENT INJURIES?

Making the case for Injury Prevention

Changing attitudes and behaviours

Keeping injury prevention front and centre

1. Fahra Rajabali, MSc, Emilie Beaulieu, MD, Jennifer Smith, BFA, Ian Pike, PhD. The economic burden of injuries in British Columbia: Applying evidence to practice. BCMJ, Vol. 60, No. 7, September, 2018, Page(s) 358-364 – Clinical Articles.