Objectives To characterise heat-related acute kidney injury (HR-AKI) among US workers in a range of industries.
Methods Two data sources were analysed: archived case files of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Office of Occupational Medicine and Nursing from 2010 through 2020; and a Severe Injury Reports (SIR) database of work-related hospitalisations that employers reported to federal OSHA from 2015 to 2020. Confirmed, probable and possible cases of HR-AKI were ascertained by serum creatinine measurements and narrative incident descriptions. Industry-specific incidence rates of HR-AKI were computed. A capture–recapture analysis assessed under-reporting in SIR.
Results There were 608 HR-AKI cases, including 22 confirmed cases and 586 probable or possible cases. HR-AKI occurred in indoor and outdoor industries including manufacturing, construction, mail and package delivery, and solid waste collection. Among confirmed cases, 95.2% were male, 50.0% had hypertension and 40.9% were newly hired workers. Incidence rates of AKI hospitalisations from 1.0 to 2.5 hours per 100 000 workers per year were observed in high-risk industries. Analysis of overlap between the data sources found that employers reported only 70.6% of eligible HR-AKI hospitalisations to OSHA, and only 41.2% of reports contained a consistent diagnosis.
Conclusions Workers were hospitalised with HR-AKI in diverse industries, including indoor facilities. Because of under-reporting and underascertainment, national surveillance databases underestimate the true burden of occupational HR-AKI. Clinicians should consider kidney risk from recurrent heat stress. Employers should provide interventions, such as comprehensive heat stress prevention programmes, that include acclimatisation protocols for new workers, to prevent HR-AKI.
Data availability statement
OSHA's Severe Injury Reports (SIR) data are available in a public, open access repository. The OOMN data are available upon reasonable request.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
Contributors DSS assisted with the study design, cleaned and analysed the data, and contributed to the draft manuscript. VMW contributed to the study design and the draft manuscript and revisions. MJH assisted with the study design and analysis plan, and revised the draft manuscript. AWT designed the study, assisted with data cleaning and analysis, and drafted and revised the manuscript. AWT is the guarantor.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Disclaimer This paper sets no new standards or regulations, creates no new legal obligations and makes no changes to existing OSHA policies.
Map disclaimer The inclusion of any map (including the depiction of any boundaries therein), or of any geographic or locational reference, does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of BMJ concerning the legal status of any country, territory, jurisdiction or area or of its authorities. Any such expression remains solely that of the relevant source and is not endorsed by BMJ. Maps are provided without any warranty of any kind, either express or implied.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.