Contact with objects resulting in traumatic injury, (also known as ‘Exposure to inanimate mechanical forces’), is the second most common cause of hospitalised injury in Australia (after falls).

This category includes harmful contact with every-day or industrial objects that usually, if used correctly, do not cause injury. Examples include knives, tools, machines and sports equipment. It also includes unintentional injuries caused by guns and non-heat-related injuries caused by explosions. (See Burns and other thermal causes for heat-related injuries.)

In 2017–18, 14% of hospitalised injury cases (74,500 cases) were caused by contact with objects. Males are particularly at risk from this category of injury, with a hospitalisation rate 2.7 times as high as females.

Deaths caused by contact with objects are comparatively rare, with just 89 (0.7% of injury deaths) recorded in 2017–18. Because of this, detailed information about these deaths is limited in this report.

This article summarises key data on accidental contact with objects that resulted in hospitalisation. Intentional injuries involving contact with objects are included under Intentional self-harm and suicide and Assault and homicide.

In 2017–18, harmful contact with objects resulted in:

74,482 hospitalisation cases

300 per 100,000 population

89 deaths

0.4 per 100,000 population

This report only includes data on injuries that result in hospital admission or death. If a person dies from an injury after being admitted to hospital, both the hospitalisation and the death is included in this report. For more information, see Defining injury hospitalisation cases and injury deaths.

Which types of contact with objects resulted in hospitalisation?

The most common causes of hospitalised injury due to exposure to inanimate mechanical forces fall under the broad categories listed in Table 1.

Table 1: Top causes of injury hospitalisation cases due to contact with objects, 2017–18

Cause

Number

%

Rate (per 100,000)

Contact with blunt objects such as doors, walls, trees, rocks, and sporting equipment (W20–22)

21,145

28

85

Contact with knives, glass, and other sharp objects (W25–26)

17,968

24

72

Contact with tools or machinery (W27–31)

15,006

20

61

Other or unspecified (W23–24, W32, W34–46, W49)

20,363

27

82

Total

74,482

100

300

Notes:

  1. Rates are crude per 100,000 population, calculated using estimated resident population as at 31 December of the relevant year. 
    Totals may not equal the sum of the rows due to rounding.
  2. Codes in brackets refer to the ICD-10-AM (10th edition) external cause codes for hospitalisations (ACCD 2017).

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

For more detailed data, see Data tables B13–14.

Trends over time

Between 2008–09 and 2016–17, there was an annual average increase of 1.0% in hospitalisation rates due to contact with objects. Annual average rate changes are calculated using modelled age-standardised rates (see Technical notes for more details).

Because of changes in data collection methods, hospitalisations data for 2017–18 should not be compared with those of previous years and are not included in Figure 1 (see Technical notes for more details).

Deaths data are not presented because of small numbers.

Figure 1: Hospitalisation cases due to contact with objects, by age group and sex, 2008–09 to 2016–17

Line graph with 3 lines representing the trend for males, females and persons from 2008–09 to 2016–17 for hospitalisation cases. The reader can select to display rate per 100,000 population or number, and can select by life-stage age group including all ages.

For more detailed data, see Data tables C1–4 and E1–4.

How do rates vary by age and sex?

Injury rates due to contact with objects differ for males and females and across age groups (Figure 2).

In 2017–18:

  • 7 in 10 (73%) injury hospitalisations due to contact with objects were for males (54,366 cases) and 3 in 10 were for females (20,114 cases)
  • 75 of the 89 deaths due to contact with objects were for males and 14 were for females
  • the age-standardised rates of injury hospitalisation due to contact with objects were 443 cases per 100,000 males, and 161 per 100,000 females
  • young people aged 15–24 had the highest rate (389 per 100,000 population) of injury hospitalisations cases due to contact with objects, compared with other life-stage age groups. Within this age group, males aged 20–24 were particularly at risk (652 per 100,000 population).

Figure 2: Hospitalisation cases due to contact with objects, by age group and sex, 2017–18

The visualisation features 2 matching column graphs on separate tabs, 1 for hospitalisation cases 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 detailed data, see Data tables A1–3 and D1–3.

How severe are hospitalised injuries due to contact with objects?

Three measures that may indicate the severity of a hospitalised injury are length of stay, percentage of cases with time in an intensive care unit (ICU), and percentage of cases involving continuous ventilator support.

The average duration of a hospital stay for injuries due to contact with objects was shorter than the average for all injury hospitalisations, and the percentages of cases that included time in an ICU or involved continuous ventilator support were lower than the percentages for all hospitalised injuries (Table 2).

Table 2: Severity of hospitalised injury cases due to contact with objects, 2017–18

 

Injuries due to contact with objects

All hospitalised injuries

Average number of days in hospital

1.8

3.3

% of cases with time in an ICU

0.6

2.4

% of cases involving continuous ventilator support

0.2

1.2

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.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

What types of injuries are sustained?

In 2017–18, the wrist and hand were the body parts most frequently injured in hospitalisation cases due to contact with objects (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Hospitalised injury cases due to contact with objects by body part injured, 2017–18

The visualisation features an outline of a person with labels for body parts accounting for hospitalisations due to contact with objects. Injuries to the wrist and hand accounted for the most hospitalisations due to contact with objects while the trunk (including spine, abdomen and pelvis) accounted for the fewest.

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.
Source:
AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

For more detailed data, see Data table A11.

Open wound was the most common type of injury (33%) for people who were hospitalised due to contact with objects (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Hospitalised injury cases due to contact with objects, by type of injury, by sex, 2017–18

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 detailed data, see Data table A10.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

In 2017–18, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:

  • there were over 4,000 hospitalisations (Table 3) and 1 death due to contact with objects
  • males, compared with females, were 2.0 times as likely to be hospitalised due to contact with objects
  • hospitalisation rates were higher among people aged 15–24, compared with other life-stage age groups (Figure 5).
Table 3: Number and rate of injury hospitalisation cases due to contact with objects by sex, Indigenous Australians, 2017–18

 

Males

Females

Persons

Number

2,677

1,340

4,017

Rate (per 100,000)

651

326

488

Note: Rates are crude per 100,000 population.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians

In 2017–18, Indigenous Australians, compared with non-Indigenous Australians, were 1.6 times as likely to be hospitalised due to contact with objects (after adjusting for differences in population age structure) (Table 4).

Table 4: Age-standardised rates (per 100,000) of injury hospitalisation cases due to contact with objects, by Indigenous status and sex, 2017–18

 

Males

Females

Persons

Indigenous Australians

626

310

467

Non-Indigenous Australians

436

155

295

Notes:

  1. Rates are age-standardised to the 2001 Australian population (per 100,000).
  2. Non-Indigenous Australians’ includes cases where Indigenous status is missing or not stated.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

The age-specific rate of injury hospitalisation cases due to contact with objects was highest among the 15–24 life-stage age group for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians (Figure 5). Deaths data are not presented because of small numbers.

Figure 5: Injury hospitalisation cases due to contact with objects, by Indigenous status, by age group and sex, 2017–18

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 detailed data, see Data tables A4–A6 and D4–D8.

Remoteness

In 2017–18, people living in Very remote areas, compared with people living in Major cities, were 1.8 times as likely to be hospitalised due to contact with objects (using age-standardised rates) (Table 5).

Table 5: Age-standardised rates (per 100,000) of injury hospitalisation cases due to contact with objects by remoteness and sex, 2017–18

 

Males

Females

Persons

Major cities

396

152

273

Inner regional

535

167

350

Outer regional

550

177

366

Remote

659

249

462

Very remote

639

332

496

Note: Rates are age-standardised per 100,000 population.

Source: AIHW National Hospital Morbidity Database.

The highest age-specific rate of injury hospitalisation cases due to contact with objects was among the 15–24 life-stage age group living in Very remote areas of Australia (Figure 6). Deaths data are not presented because of small numbers.

Figure 6: Hospitalisation cases due to contact with objects, by remoteness, by age group and sex, 2017–18

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 detailed data, see Data tables A7–A9 and D9–10.

For information on how statistics by remoteness are calculated, see Technical notes.

More information

Technical notes—read about how the data were calculated.

Data tables—download full data tables.

Glossary

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