Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2021. Injury in Australia: contact with objects. Canberra: AIHW. Viewed 27 October 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/contact-with-objects
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2021). Injury in Australia: contact with objects. Retrieved from https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/contact-with-objects
Injury in Australia: contact with objects. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 10 March 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/contact-with-objects
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Injury in Australia: contact with objects [Internet]. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2021 [cited 2021 Oct. 27]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/contact-with-objects
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2021, Injury in Australia: contact with objects, viewed 27 October 2021, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/injury/contact-with-objects
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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
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.
The most common causes of hospitalised injury due to exposure to inanimate mechanical forces fall under the broad categories listed in Table 1.
Rate (per 100,000)
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 detailed data, see Data tables B13–14.
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.
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.
Injury rates due to contact with objects differ for males and females and across age groups (Figure 2).
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.
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).
Injuries due to contact with objects
All hospitalised injuries
Average number of days in hospital
% of cases with time in an ICU
% of cases involving continuous ventilator 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 2017–18, the wrist and hand were the body parts most frequently injured in hospitalisation cases due to contact with objects (Figure 3).
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).
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.
In 2017–18, among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people:
Note: Rates are crude per 100,000 population.
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).
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.
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.
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).
Note: Rates are age-standardised per 100,000 population.
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.
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.
Technical notes—read about how the data were calculated.
Data tables—download full data tables.
ACCD (Australian Consortium for Classification Development) 2017. The international statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, 10th revision, Australian modification (ICD-10-AM), 10th edn. Tabular list of diseases and alphabetic index of diseases. Adelaide: Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA), Lane Publishing.
The following list includes AIHW publications from recent years that include information on contact with objects (referred to in most of these publications as exposure to inanimate mechanical forces). See Reports for any older publications that may exist.
Trends in hospitalised injury, Australia, 2007–08 to 2016–17
Trends in injury deaths, Australia, 1999–00 to 2016–17
Hospitalised sports injury in Australia, 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)
10 March 2021 – In the section How do rates vary by age and sex? age-standardised death rates by sex have been removed from the text. This is due to the volatility of age-standardised rates based on small numbers.
Research provided by Flinders University
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