Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2022) Contact with objects, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 06 July 2022.
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2022). Contact with objects. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/contact-with-objects
Contact with objects. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 16 June 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/contact-with-objects
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Contact with objects [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2022 [cited 2022 Jul. 6]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/contact-with-objects
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2022, Contact with objects, viewed 6 July 2022, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/contact-with-objects
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Contact with objects leading to injury is the second most common cause of hospitalised injury in Australia (after falls). Falling or moving objects, hard or sharp objects, household or industrial equipment and intruding foreign bodies are all potential causes of injury in this category.
In 2019–20, harmful contact with objects resulted in:
300 per 100,000 population
0.5 per 100,000 population
This represents 15% of hospitalised injuries and 0.9% of injury deaths. Males were particularly at risk, with a hospitalisation rate 2.7 times as high as females.
Deaths caused by contact with objects are comparatively rare, with just 120 deaths recorded in 2019–20.
Contact with objects (also known as Exposure to inanimate mechanical forces) includes harmful contact with every-day or industrial objects such as knives, tools, machines and sports equipment. It also includes unintentional injuries caused by guns and non-heat-related injuries caused by explosions. (For heat-related injuries, see Thermal causes).
This chapter covers accidental contact with objects. Intentional injuries are included under Intentional self-harm and suicide and Assault and homicide.
The most common causes of hospitalised injury due to exposure to inanimate mechanical forces fall under the broad categories listed in Table 1.
Contact with blunt objects such as doors, walls, trees, rocks, and sporting equipment (W20–22)
Contact with knives, glass, and other sharp objects (W25–26)
Contact with tools or machinery (W27–31)
Other or unspecified (W23–24, W32, W34–46, W49)
Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.
For more detail, see Data tables B15–16.
The most common cause of injury death due to exposure to inanimate mechanical forces was contact with blunt objects such as doors, trees, rocks and sporting equipment (43%) (Table 2).
Caught, crushed, jammed or pinched in or between objects (W23)
Other or unspecified (W24, W32–W49)
Source: AIHW National Mortality Database.
For more detail, see Data tables E22–24.
Hospital admissions due to contact with objects appear to have a minimal seasonal pattern, with a slight increase in injuries from November through to March.
In March 2020 the first lockdowns and social distancing measures associated with COVID-19 interrupted the usual activity of Australians. The restrictions to movement and activity coincide with a drop in admissions due to injuries caused by contact with objects when compared to those months in previous years, however admissions then rebounded and were above past years in June (Figure 1).
See the interactive COVID-19 display for data and further discussion about the impact of COVID-19 on hospital admissions.
1. Months have been standardised to 31 days.
2. A scale up factor has been applied to June admissions to account for cases not yet separated.
The age-standardised rate of hospitalisations due to contact with objects in 2019–20 was the same as a year earlier.
Over the period from 2009–10 to 2016–17 there was an average annual increase of 1.3%. There is a break in the time series for hospitalisations between 2016–17 and 2017–18 due to a change in data collection methods (see the Technical notes for details).
For deaths due to contact with objects the average annual change in rate between 2010–11 and 2019–20 was 0.8%.
Line graph with 3 lines representing the trend in hospitalisations for males, females and persons from 2010–11 to 2019–20. The reader can select to display rate per 100,000 population or number.
For more detail, see Data tables C1–7 and F1–3.
Injury rates due to contact with objects differ for males and females and across age groups (Figure 3).
The visualisation features 2 matching column graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisations and 1 for deaths. The columns represent sex within 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display either age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The default displays males and females and the reader can also select to display persons.
For more detail, see Data tables A1–3 and D1–3.
There are many ways that the severity, or seriousness, of an injury can be measured. Using available data, three measures of the severity of hospitalised injuries are:
Based on data from these measures, injuries due to contact with objects tend to be less severe than the average for all hospitalised injuries (Table 3).
Injuries due to contact with objects
Average number of days in hospital
% of cases with time in an ICU
% of cases involving continuous ventilatory support
Note: Average number of days in hospital (length of stay) includes admissions that are transfers from 1 hospital to another or transfers from 1 admitted care type to another within the same hospital, except where care involves rehabilitation procedures.
In 2019–20, the wrist and hand were the body parts most often identified as the principal site of injury in hospitalisations due to contact with objects (Figure 4).
Note: Body part refers to the principal reason for hospitalisation. Number and percentage of injuries classified as Other, multiple and incompletely specified body regions or Injuries not described in terms of body region not shown—see Data table A11.
For more detail, see Data table A11.
Open wound was the most common type of injury for people who were hospitalised due to contact with objects (Figure 5).
Bar graph showing type of injury sustained by category and by sex. Open wound was the most common type for both males and females, followed by fracture. The reader can select to display either the crude rate per 100,000 population or the number of cases. The default display shows data for males and females, and the reader can also select to display for persons.
For more detail, see Data table A10.
In 2019–20, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:
Rate (per 100,000)
Note: Rates are crude per 100,000 population.
In 2019–20, Indigenous Australians, compared with non-Indigenous Australians, were 1.7 times as likely to be hospitalised due to contact with objects (after adjusting for differences in population age structure) (Table 5).
The age-specific rate of injury hospitalisations due to contact with objects was highest among the 25–44 age group for Indigenous Australians and highest among the 15–24 age group for non-Indigenous Australians (Figure 6). Deaths data are not presented because of small numbers.
Column graph representing hospitalisation data for Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display age-specific rate per 100,000 or number. The reader can also select to display data for persons, males or females.
For more detail, see Data tables A4–6 and D4–6.
In 2019–20, people living in Very remote areas, compared with people living in Major cities, were twice as likely to be hospitalised due to contact with objects (using age-standardised rates) (Table 6).
Note: Rates are age-standardised per 100,000 population.
The highest age-specific rate of injury hospitalisations due to contact with objects was among the 15–24 life-stage age group living in Very remote areas of Australia (Figure 7). Deaths data are not presented because of small numbers.
Column graph representing hospitalisation data for each of the 5 remoteness categories by 6 life-stage age groups. The reader can select to display age-specific rate per 100,000 population or number. The reader can also select to display data for persons, males or females.
For more detail, see Data tables A7–9 and D9–10.
For information on how statistics by remoteness are calculated, see the Technical notes.
Defining injury hospitalisations and deaths: how injuries were counted
Technical notes: how the data were calculated
Data tables: download full data tables
ACCD (Australian Consortium for Classification Development) 2019. The international statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, 10th revision, Australian modification (ICD-10-AM), 11th edn. Tabular list of diseases and alphabetic index of diseases. Adelaide: Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA), Lane Publishing.
WHO (World Health Organization) 2011. International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, tenth revision. Fifth edition 2016. Geneva: WHO.
The following are recent publications. See Reports for any older publications that may exist.
The first year of COVID-19 in Australia: direct and indirect health effects
Sports injury hospitalisations in Australia, 2019–20
Trends in hospitalised injury, Australia, 2007–08 to 2016–17
Trends in injury deaths, Australia, 1999–00 to 2016–17
Indigenous injury deaths, 2011–12 to 2015–16
Hospitalised injury and socioeconomic influence in Australia, 2015–16
Injury mortality and socioeconomic influence in Australia, 2015–16
Eye injuries in Australia, 2010–11 to 2014–15
DIY injuries (2013–14)
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