Hospitalized Burns

Public health importance of work-related hospitalized burns

Work-related burns are a leading cause of acute occupational injury in the United States. An estimated 20-30% of all hospitalizations due to burn injuries result from workplace exposures.

From 1994-1998, a total of 290 workers filed claims to the Washington state-fund workers' compensation system for burn injuries that required inpatient hospitalization. These injuries incurred direct costs of almost $2.8 million per year and resulted in approximately 7,600 lost workdays per year (an average of 132 lost workdays per claim).

Work-related burns are preventable. Engineering controls, personal protective equipment, and employer/employee education are all potential strategies that can be used to prevent these serious injuries.

Purpose and operation


The purpose of this system is the identification of patterns and trends that can be used to reduce, through prevention, the occupational risks associated with work-related burns that result in hospitalization or death.


  • Describe the incidence, prevalence and mortality of work-related hospitalized burns.
  • Identify high risk occupations and industries.
  • Identify useful prevention strategies.
  • Generate hypotheses about causative agents and factors.

Planned uses

  • Identifying outbreaks of work-related hospitalized burns.
  • Analyzing risks by occupation and industry.
  • Tracking trends in incidence and prevalence.
  • Sharing information with health care providers, public health professionals, and labor and industry stakeholders.
  • Measuring progress in achieving Healthy People 2010 Objectives 20-2 regarding injuries resulting in medical treatment, lost time from work and restricted work activity.

Case definition

A case from a sentinel provider is any worker, who is employed within the borders of the state of Washington, who suffers a burn while performing work-related duties, and the burn results in hospital inpatient treatment or death. A workers' compensation claim is considered a case if the claim has been assigned a (nature) of injury code of 120 (heat burns or scald), 130 (chemical burns), 291 (nonionizing radiation), or 295 (welder's flash) and where the claimant is identified as an inpatient from a hospital bill in the system. Additionally, a case is accepted if it has a nature of injury code of 200 (electric shock, electrocution), the claimant is identified as an inpatient from a hospital bill, and at least one ICD9CM diagnosis code from a hospital bill is consistent with a burn. Acceptable ICD9CM codes are 94X burns (where X can range from 0 to 9 and identifies the affected body part), 91X.0 abrasion or friction burn, 91X.1 an infection associated with an abrasion or friction burn, and 692.7 sunburn.

Legal authority

On July 12, 2000 the Washington State Board of Health adopted revisions to the Washington Administrative Code Chapter 246 Section 101 (WAC 246‑101) making hospitalized burns a reportable condition ( The Department of Labor & Industries was given authority to maintain a surveillance system that can include direct reporting from laboratories, health care providers and health care facilities; to develop routine dissemination mechanisms; and provide consultation and technical assistance to health departments, business and labor organizations.

Organizational location

The surveillance system is located within the Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) Program of the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.

System components

Population under surveillance

Workers employed within the state of Washington.

Time period of data collection

Data collection with the sentinel network began in September 2000.

Collection and reporting sources

SHARP has developed voluntary reporting agreements with 5 hospitals and burn centers in and around Washington to report cases of occupationally related burns that were hospitalized at their institution. Data from workers compensation claims are extracted from the Department of Labor & Industries data warehouse on a monthly basis. Deaths resulting from work-related burns are obtained from the occupational mortality reports in the FACE Program.

Data management

Case reports from sentinel hospitals and FACE mortality reports are entered manually. A query has been written to extract case information from the data warehouse. It is run monthly. The surveillance system is maintained as an Access database. This relational database management system has the tools needed to perform automated edit checks during data entry; to eliminate duplicate records; to add, delete and update records; and to perform the queries needed to maintain the database and create a variety of outputs.

Data analysis and dissemination

Brief updates are disseminated to the reporting hospitals to keep them informed of surveillance activities. The data are reviewed periodically for clusters by industry and occupation.

Patient privacy, data confidentiality, and system security

All data collected are used solely for surveillance and prevention purposes. All hard copies of case reports are stored in locked filing cabinets. The Access database is password protected. Passwords to the database are issued only to authorized SHARP personnel. Additionally, the physical access to the building and the access to individual computers are controlled as part of the Department of Labor & Industries security systems.

Hospitalized burns resources developed by the SHARP program


Hospitalized burns reports are available from SHARP's Publications page.

Surveillance tools

The below case follow-up materials may be downloaded to your system and modified for your use. Please reference the source.

Provider Updates

Surveillance data summaries for health care providers.

Links to other work-related hospitalized burns information

External hyperlinks are provided as a public service by the SHARP Program. Neither L&I nor SHARP are responsible for the reliability or accuracy of the information found on other Web sites (Privacy and Security Policy).

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