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   Packaging: Introduction
  
 
 
 
There were about 62,000 non-fatal cases in 1996 equivalent to 2% of all serious accidents in the home. The heath service costs of these injuries is around 12 million every year.

Accidents occur across a wide spread of ages but concentrating on those in the age range 20 to 49. Women are on average 50% more likely to have accidents than men and the disparity between men and women increases with age only partly due to changing demographics. 65% of the fatalities involved men.

Only 5% of these accidents are serious (or very serious) and there were 26 fatal cases.

Almost 90% of the injuries are cuts/lacerations or burns/scalds with the latter somewhat more likely to be serious. Most occur during food preparation.

Food Preparation Injuries

  

Trivial/ Minor

Serious/ very serious

Total

% of Total serious

% of Total very serious

Cuts/ lacerations

36,000

1,200

37,200

60%

3%

Burns/ scalds

17,100

1,300

18,400

29%

7%

Other

6,400

600

7,000

11%

9%

Total

59,500

3,100

62,600

100%

5%

Source. Analysis of non-fatal accidents (HASS, 1996 data) and accidental deaths (HADD, 1995 data)

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Knives are the cause of 42% of non-fatal accidents and 19% are associated with cooking oil or frying, particularly of chips. Out of the 26 fatalities, 12 resulted from the use of a chip pan, 7 from some other saucepan and 5 from clothes catching fire. Alcohol was mentioned in three cases in addition to the cooking appliance.

Food Preparation - Articles Involved

Article

Cases

% of Total Cases

Knife

26,300

42%

Oil/fat/frying pan/chip pan

11,800

19%

Drinking glass

10,300

16%

Tin can

9,000

14%

Hot liquid/kettle

6,500

10%

Food processor kitchen tool

3,600

6%

Dish/plate

3,400

5%

Total

70,900

113%

From the description of the accidents on the database, the most common accident seems to happen when people are cutting vegetables or meat with a knife which slips and cuts their finger. About 2,000 accidents happen while people are trying to separate items of frozen food, usually with a knife. Opening tin cans, particularly corned beef, is another frequent source of injury. The latter are both packaging related accidents.

Improved product packaging for food items to aid both openability and disposal are likely to reduce accidents. DTI has been promoting safer packaging and has published a good deal of research over the last few years, much of it carried out in collaboration with industry.

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Last updated: 05 January 2005