BACKGROUND: The occupational injury incident rate remains relatively high in the European Union. The case-crossover study gives a unique opportunity to study transient risk factors that normally would be very difficult to approach. Studies like this have been carried out in both America and Asia, but so far no relevant research has been conducted in Europe.
METHOD: Case-crossover studies of occupational injuries were collected from PubMed and Embase and read through. Previous experiences concerning method, exposure and outcome, time-related measurements and construction of the questionnaire were taken into account in the preparation of a pilot study. Consequently, experiences from the pilot study were used to design the study protocol. Approximately 2000 patients with an occupational injury will be recruited from the emergency departments in Herning and Odense, Denmark. A standardised questionnaire will be used to collect basic demographic data and information on eight transient risk factors. Based on previous studies and knowledge on occupational injuries the transient risk factors we chose to examine were: time pressure, performing a task with a different method/using unaccustomed technique, change in working surroundings, using a phone, disagreement, feeling ill, being distracted and using malfunctioning machinery/tools or work material. Exposure time 'just before the injury' will be compared with two control periods, 'previous day at the same time of the injury' (pair match) and the previous work week (usual frequency).
DISCUSSION: This study protocol describes a unique opportunity to calculate the effect of transient risk factors on occupational injuries in a European setting.