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Putting Things in Perspective

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“Are Americans worrying too much about the wrong things?”

That’s the title of a press release from the National Safety Council (NSC), which marked June as National Safety Month. The aim is to draw attention to the fact that unintentional–or accidental– injuries are the fifth most common cause of death in the United States.

Within the category of unintentional injuries, the NSC notes that the top three causes of unintentional injury in the U.S. are:

  1. Poisoning (with a majority of cases attributed to prescription drug abuse);
  2. Motor vehicle crashes (with 26 percent of all crashes estimated to involve cell phone use while driving), and;
  3. Falls.

The NSC points out that by taking some simple steps, both on and off the job, it’s possible to reduce the number of deaths by accidental injury. Some examples include properly storing medication, not talking on the cell phone – hands-on or hands-free while driving, and using slip-resistant mats on floors.

As for the top four leading causes of death in the U.S., according to data compiled by the CDC/NHS, National Vital Statistics System, they are:

  1. Diseases of the heart (28.5 percent of total)
  2. Malignant tumors (22.8 percent of total)
  3. Cerebrovascular diseases (6.7 percent of total)
  4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases (5.1 percent of total)

Placing behind unintentional injuries, which account for 4.4 percent of the total causes of death, is diabetes mellitus, at 3.0 percent of the total. Interestingly, murders are more far more likely than to make the news than unintentional injuries, despite the fact that homicides shared the number 15 ranking with Parkinson’s disease (0.7 percent of the total) among the most common causes of death in the United States.

Mr. Griffith has a received his bachelors degree in Environmental Health from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is a Certified Industrial Hygienist and president of Workplace Safety & Health Company. He has over 35 years of industrial hygiene, safety, loss control and consulting experience. Chemical monitoring, noise measurement, program development and management, risk assessment and computer management of health and safety data are areas of particular strength. Mr. Griffith is a member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) at the local and national level. He is also active in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

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