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D5.1 Fall-Safe Intervention and Research-Becker PE, Fullen MD, Akladios M

Falls are the leading cause of injury in construction. The construction safety literature recognizes available engineering controls, work practices, and personal protection which are effective in preventing construction falls. However the equipment and practices are not widely used in the industry. This presentation will report the results of an innovative intervention research project intended to improve and evaluate contractor performance and practices needed to decrease construction falls.

The program implements a construction contractor certification program called Fall-Safe. Fall-Safe is a fall management system that works to improve management use of existing fall prevention methods through use of training and an audit system to provide accountability system for fall prevention on construction job sites. WVU Safety and Health Extension serves as the certifying organization for contractors in West Virginia, and is assisting contractors in developing office and site fall prevention programs, training of supervision and workers, and quarterly audit of both company and site fall prevention efforts. Considerable project resources have been allocated to marketing the program to contractors. Construction Safety Council and St. Paul Insurance also serve as sponsoring organizations for Fall-Safe in the Midwest.

The site audit of fall prevention practices also serves as the tool for evaluating impact of the program. The audit has been programmed into a touch screen handheld computer that scores contractors on their fall prevention site programs and their compliance with OSHA standards related to construction falls. The evaluation compares the changes in scores for an intervention group of contractors and a control group that does not participate in Fall-Safe over a period of one and a half years. Preliminary analysis indicates intervention contractors improve both program and site audit scores more than control contractors.


D5.2 Differences in Injury Intervention Implementation Among Small Union Carpentry Firms in New England-Siqueira E, Halperin K, Ginieres M

An intervention to lower injury rates and improve safety practices among construction workers was implemented in January, 1997. The intervention consisted of assisting each of 21 small (10 to 50 carpenter) union carpentry firms in developing a health and safety program that they could apply to each new work site. Outcomes measured were insurance experience modification rates (EMR), injury rates measured by dividing OSHA recordable injuries by carpenter hours worked, and safety sentinel practices - use of hardhats, eye protection, hearing protection, electrical protection, and fall protection. Sentinel practices were measured every two to three months for at least one worksite for each firm. Controls were historical; additional controls for sentinel practices were measured by measuring the sentinel practices of carpenters at work on similar sites on the same days as the study group worksite visits.

Interviews with foremen of companies participating in an injury intervention research study and with carpenters' union stewards were conducted to qualitatively assess the factors that may explain why some contractors bought-in the proposed health and safety program while others did not.

A summary of the perceived reasons for success or failure of the health and safety intervention will be presented, using the themes and words of these two central actors in safe work practices in the construction industry.


D5.3 A Controlled Prospective Injury Intervention for Small Union Carpentry Firms in New England- Halperin KM, Cameron W, McDougall V

In January, 1997, an intervention was introduced which consisted of assisting 21 small union carpentry firms in developing health and safety programs. Outcomes measured were "sentinel safety practices": use of hardhats, eye protection, hearing protection, electrical ground fault protection, and fall protection on the construction worksite. Sentinel practices were measured every two to three months for at least one worksite for each firm. Controls for these "sentinel practices" were obtained by measuring the same variables at worksites of contractors not in the study group, on the same days as the study group worksite visits. Workers' compensation insurance experience modification rates (EMR) and OSHA recordable injury rate data were also collected for the study group contractors, but this proved difficult to control for except using historical internal controls within the study group.

Data collected in over 500 worksite visits show a correlation between the sentinel safety practices and the project ownership, project manager leadership on safety, contractor leadership on safety, union local (and apparently union density), and type of carpentry work. There was an upward secular trend in safety equipment use over the three-year duration of the study among both the study group and controls.

Important lessons for further intervention research were learned. Simply instituting a written health and safety program is an inadequate intervention to affect either safety practices or injury rates. Physical safety measures - engineering measures and protective equipment policy measures - must be taken in order to improve the injury picture in construction.


D5.4 Worker and Manager Perceptions of Construction Safety Practices-Gillen M, McCall C, Sum J, Kools S, Moulden K

Aim: Experience has demonstrated that large construction companies have been successful in reducing work-related injuries on well-managed sites. Using focus group methodology, the aim of this qualitative study was to identify construction workers' and construction managers' views regarding currently used safety practices. Questions were designed to elicit information on direct safety practices such as equipment and training, but also indirect practices for example, communication style, attitude, expectations, and unspoken messages.

Methods: A series of nine focus groups was held with union and non-union carpenters, union roofers, and a mixed group of trades. Seven questions were used to elicit opinions from the construction workers. A second series of three focus groups was held with construction safety personnel or construction managers. Questions for the manager groups were developed, in part, from the worker responses, as well as theoretically and practice derived questions.

Analysis: Thematic content analysis was used to determine major themes in both series of groups. Findings suggest that safety management is a complex phenomenon requiring technical, interpersonal, educational, management, and organizational skills. Management commitment to safety, modeling safe behaviors, explicit and implied messages, worksite planning, housekeeping efforts, and personal interactions affect employee morale, and subsequently may contribute to safe work practices. The role of regulatory agencies, the insurance industry, workplace culture, and individual and co-worker behavior was also explored.

Conclusions: These findings may assist construction workers and managers in evaluating their safety behavior and safety practices, as well as developing new skills that may enhance their effectiveness in contributing to or managing workplace safety. When applicable, these findings may also be used to develop cost-effective, model safety and health programs for small construction firms.



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Page last updated: March 2001
Page last reviewed: March 2001
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Division of Safety Research