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Occup Med (Lond). 2009 Aug;59(5):327-33. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqp070. Epub 2009 May 25.

Significant injuries in Australian veterinarians and use of safety precautions.

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  • 1Western Australian Institute for Medical Research B block, Hospital Avenue, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia.



A high injury prevalence has been reported among veterinarians. Studies describing the factors associated with injury have been limited.


To describe the characteristics of serious injuries and the use of safety precautions at the time of injury in Australian veterinarians.


Graduates in veterinary medicine from Australian universities completed questionnaires asking about injuries during their professional career including type of injury and circumstances during which injury occurred.


A total of 2188 significant injuries were reported. Injuries were most frequently sustained on farms (55%) and associated with undertaking procedural activities (37%) and examining and moving animals (37%). The hand (33%) was the commonest site involved. Injuries to the head and face regions accounted for 15% of all injuries. The most frequent injuries sustained were open wounds (36%), fractures and dislocations (27%) and soft tissue bruising (12%). There were 63 reports of intracranial injury and 19 traumatic amputations reported. Bites, kicks or strikes, animal contact and cutting or scratching were the most frequent mechanisms of injury reported. The major factors reported in association with injury were cattle (22%), horses (21%), dogs (20%) and cats (8%). Fifty-five per cent of veterinarians reported the use of safety precautions at the time of injury.


Veterinarians are a high-risk group for significant injury from animal contacts. The reported use of safety measures and their effectiveness when used by veterinarians appear less than optimal. Further efforts aimed at addressing injury prevention may include developing and implementing improved safe handling practices and safety precautions.

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