Objective.—During 1992–2000, an average of 40 fatal occupational injuries and 12 400 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses related to animals were recorded each year in the United States, most involving domestic farm animals. Although Alaska has a relatively small farming industry, it supports several industries that require workers to regularly be in contact with animals. This study examines the pattern and characteristics of animal-related occupational injuries in Alaska.
Methods.—Two data sources were accessed: the Alaska Trauma Registry for nonfatal injuries requiring hospitalization and the Alaska Occupational Injury Surveillance System for fatal injuries. The case definition included events in which the source of the injury was an animal or animal product (Occupational Injury and Illness Classification Manual source code 51).
Results.—In Alaska during 1991–2000, there were 43 animal-related occupational injuries requiring hospitalization and 25 animal-related fatalities. There were only 2 fatal events: 1 bird-strike aircraft accident killing 24 military personnel and 1 bear attack. The majority of the nonfatal injury events were related to marine wildlife (n = 20), with the rest related to either domesticated (n = 11) or nondomesticated (n = 12) mammals. Of events reporting a hospital charge (23 of 43), the average cost was over $9700 per person.
Conclusions.—The catastrophic aircraft crash increased bird-control efforts near airports around the state. The nonfatal animal-related injuries have received less notice, although they result in thousands of dollars in hospital costs and lost workdays. Fishing-industry workers in particular should be made aware of potential injuries and educated on how to treat them when away from definitive medical care.