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Surveillance of work related musculoskeletal injuries among union carpenters.

Lipscomb-HJ; Dement-JM; Loomis-DP; Silverstein-B; Kalat-J
Am J Ind Med 1997 Dec; 32(6):629-640
An analysis of work related musculoskeletal injuries (WMSIs) among union carpenters was conducted. The cohort consisted of 10,935 active union carpenters, 10,847 males, who worked for at least 3 months of union hours in Washington State from 1989 through 1992, who were identified from searches of records of the Carpenter Trust of Western Washington and the World Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of North America. The mean age of the subjects at entry into the cohort was 35 years. The incidence of WMSIs in the cohort was determined from a search of the workers' compensation claims records of the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. The WMSIs were coded according to definitions developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Subgroups at greatest risk for filing compensation claims for an ANSI coded WMSI were evaluated by Poisson regression techniques. The cohort filed at least 50 claims for 16 categories of WMSI, representing a total of 3,050 claims of which 1,162 (38%) resulted in paid lost work time. The highest rates of claims were for back sprains, neck and back sprains, and knee sprains. The claims rates being 5.7, 1.4, and 1.1 claims per 200,000 hours of union carpenter work (claim/200,000hr), respectively. For paid lost work time claims, back sprains and knee sprains were the most frequent claims made, 2.3 and 0.51claim/200,000hr, respectively. The total of 3,050 claims were filed by 2,376 different workers. Of these, 1,194 filed two or more claims. The largest proportions of repeat claims were for back sprains, back and neck sprains, and knee sprains. Across all types of carpentry tasks, the largest claim rates were for back sprains, varying from 1.4claim/200,000hr for cabinet makers to 8.6claim/200,000hr for dry wall workers. Older carpenters had increased risks for foot fractures than younger workers. Female workers had higher risks of sprains or strains and nerve disorders of the wrist or forearms. Light commercial and drywall work was a significant risk factor for injuries to the axial skeleton. Being a member of the union for at least 4 years was associated with a lower risk for most of the WRMIs. A similar risk pattern was seen for claims that resulted in paid lost work time. The authors conclude that these types of data are useful for surveillance purposes, documenting injury rates, and allowing internal comparisons to be made for groups of construction workers at known high risk for WRMIs who are difficult to survey by other methods.
NIOSH-Publication; NIOSH-Grant; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Information-systems; Construction-workers; Risk-factors; Surveillance-programs; Lost-work-days; Sex-factors; Disabled-workers; Author Keywords: musculoskeletal injury; carpenters; construction; surveillance; workers' compensation; ANSI codes; female workers
Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710
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Journal Article
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Research Tools and Approaches: Health Services Research
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American Journal of Industrial Medicine
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Duke University Medical Center, Department of Community and Family Medicine, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Durham, North Carolina