Scand J Work Environ Health 2005;31 suppl 2:11-21    pdf

Occupational injuries among construction workers treated in a major metropolitan emergency department in the United States

by Welch LS, Hunting KL, Anderson Murawski J

Objectives The aim of this study was to profile construction workers’ injuries for more information about the causes of nonfatal construction worker injuries and identify injury trends for further investigations and prevention programs.

Methods An injury-tracking program for emergency departments was established in 1990 to gather the data needed for the study. Profiles were obtained for 2916 construction workers’ injuries that were identified on hospital registration forms at the George Washington University Emergency Department in Washington, DC, from November 1990 through October 1997. Laborers and construction workers who did not specify a trade were combined, and together they made up the largest group—29% of the injured workers.

Results The leading cause of injury was contact with cutting or piercing objects—most often pieces of metal, razors, knives, power tools, and nails. Workers striking against objects or being struck by objects (including falling objects) accounted for the second-largest group of injuries, and the third leading injury circumstance was falling—either from a height or on the same level. Detailed injury statistics are presented by trade, showing patterns of injury that reflect tasks of these trades and which injuries predominated in each trade. Although many previous reports have described construction workers’ injuries, very few have provided detailed data by trade.

Conclusions The details presented in this analysis allow for a better understanding of the injury circumstances and provide a starting point for injury prevention programs.