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The utility of linked and transformed workers' compensation data to study work injuries by occupation among employees of Ohio for-hire carriers, 1997-1999.

Oleinick-A; Werner-RA; Blower-DF; Gandra-C; Simon-CD
NORA Symposium 2006: Research Makes a Difference! April 18-26, 2006, Washington, DC. Washington, DC: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2006 Apr; :204-205
Truck drivers have an increased risk of back disorders and back pain. Damage due to mechanical overloading and/or excessive muscular fatigue as a result of prolonged exposure to whole body vibration during driving have been suggested as possible causes. The absence of chronic radiologic overload changes in the spinal column in drivers suggests that excessive muscular fatigue together with the heavy lifting tasks associated with loading and unloading large trucks may be causative. To determine the strength of the association of demographic factors, carrier firm operating characteristics, and occupational group in for-hire carrier firms with the occurrence of back or intervertebral disc work injuries accepted for payment by a state agency that insures approximately 70% of a state's employed population. The Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation provided a data extract from its relational database for all claims approved for payment for for-hire carrier employers during 1997-1999. Employer information was linked to operating fleet characteristics information in the federal Motor Carrier Management Information System database. Software classified medical diagnoses by functional area affected, severity and the presence/absence of concurrent injury comorbidities. Operating fleet characteristics were dichotomized into long-haul and short haul firms and then further dichotomized by average annual driver miles. There were 20,794 first claims in the study period, of which 6,321 claims had at least one back injury diagnosis. Of all first injuries, 8,561 claims involving 2,605 back injuries were matched to federal files with interstate carrier data. The age distribution of all injured truck drivers is shifted to the right of the age distributions for laborers, clerical workers and nonclassifiable workers, probably reflecting the underlying age distribution for all truck drivers. The age distribution for all back injuries combined (83.7% sprains, 7.3% disc injuries) is similar to that for all injuries in all occupational groups. However, the age distributions for disc injuries show further shifts to the right for both truck drivers and laborers. Indirect age standardized age distributions document that truck drivers have a greater risk of all back injuries and a much greater risk of disc injuries than the other occupational groups. Compared to laborers, the increased risk of back injuries in truck drivers appears attributable to vehicular accidents, but that is not the case for disc injuries. Truck drivers are also more likely to have concurrent injuries with a back injury than are other occupations. Without age adjustment, firm average miles driven do not explain the observed differences, while drivers in short haul firms seem to be at greater risk of back injuries. Modeling results are being obtained. For all back injuries, the lack of a distinctive age distribution, the absence of a difference between drivers with high and low average annual miles driven and the fact that vehicular accidents explain a large part of the observed difference argue for acute damage. For disc injuries, the simultaneous age distribution shift for disc injuries among truck drivers and laborers also suggest acute injury. While most back and disc injuries in truck drivers appear to be produced by the usual causes, the delivery of preventive services to the widely dispersed truck driver population will present special problems.
Workers; Worker-health; Injuries; Traumatic-injuries; Employees; Employee-health; Trucking; Truck-drivers; Back-injuries; Risk-factors; Risk-analysis; Occupational-exposure; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Muscular-disorders; Muscles; Muscle-stress; Fatigue; Occupational-accidents
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings; Abstract
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Fiscal Year
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Source Name
NORA Symposium 2006: Research Makes a Difference! April 18-26, 2006, Washington, DC.
Performing Organization
University of Michigan at Ann Arbor