NOTE: This page is archived for historical purposes and is no longer being maintained or updated.

F6.1 Contractor Safety Practices and Injury Rates During Construction of Denver International Airport-Glazner JE, Borgerding J, Bondy J, Lowery JT, Lezotte DC, Kreiss K

Background: We sought to explain variation in injury rates found for categories of companies and contracts involved in the construction of Denver International Airport (DIA) by surveying contractors about company and contract-level safety practices.

Methods: We conducted 213 telephone interviews (83% response) with representatives of contracts with payrolls of more than $250,000. We investigated the relationship between safety actions reported in the survey and injury occurrence by calculating aggregate injury rates (lost-work-time (LWT) rates and non-LWT rates) for the group of respondent contracts reporting always taking the action and for the group not always taking the action. Using Poisson regression, we examined the association between contract injury rates and contract safety practices, controlling for variables previously shown to affect contract-level injury rates.

Results: In Poisson regression, two actions, (1) disciplinary action always resulting when safety rules were violated and (2) contractors always considering experience modification ratings when selecting subcontractors, were associated with lower LWT injury rates. Three actions or contract characteristics resulted in lower non-LWT rates: management always establishing safety goals for supervisors, conducting drug testing at times other than badging or after an accident, and completing the DIA contract on budget, rather than over budget. In contrast, reportedly consistent use of a number of accepted safety practices was associated with significantly higher injury rates in bivariate and multivariate analyses.

Conclusions: The pattern of counterintuitive results found in this study suggests that survey questions reflecting agreed-upon safety practices, when asked of the person responsible for all on-site construction activities, are likely to elicit normative responses. Objective validation of reported safety practices, when used in conjunction with measures of both time at risk and outcome as well as control for prevailing risk of the work performed, is critical to evaluating their efficacy in reducing injury rates.


F6.2 Analysis of Construction Injury Burden by Type of Work-Lowery JT, Glazner JE, Borgerding JA, Bondy J, Lezotte DC, Kreiss K

Background: To lay groundwork for identifying patterns of injury etiology, we sought to describe injury experience associated with types of work performed at construction sites by examining workers' compensation (WC) claims for the 32,081 construction workers who built Denver International Airport (DIA).

Methods: Injury rates and WC payment rates were calculated for 25 types of work based on claims and payroll data reported to DIA's owner-controlled insurance program according to National Council on Compensation Insurance job classifications. By linking DIA claims with corresponding lost-work-time (LWT) claims filed with Colorado's Workers' Compensation Division, we were also able to obtain total and median lost days for each type of work.

Results: Injury experience varied widely among types of construction work. Workers building elevators and conduits and installing glass, metal, or steel were at particularly high risk of both LWT and non-LWT injury. Median days lost by injured workers was the highest (202 days) for driving/trucking. Median days lost for most types of work was much greater than previously reported for construction: 40 days or more for 18 of the 25 types of work analyzed. WC payment rates reflect both number and severity of injuries and were generally not significantly different from expected losses. They were, however, significantly higher than expected for driving/trucking, metal/steel installation, inspection/analysis, and elevator construction.

Conclusion: Analysis of injury data by type of work allows targeting of safety resources to high risk construction work and would be useful in prospective surveillance at large construction sites with centrally administered workers' compensation plans.


F6.3 Work-related Falls in Residential and Drywall Carpentry-Lipscomb HJ, Dement JM, Li L, Nolan J, Patterson D

Workers' compensation records provide limited information about injury circumstances, etiology and potential interventions. To overcome these obstacles an active injury reporting/investigation program, modeled after NIOSH's Fatal Accidents Circumstances and Epidemiology program, was established with the Carpenters' District Council of St. Louis for residential and drywall carpenters. Twenty-five contractors (3 million hours of union work/year) report recordable injuries as they occur. Journeymen carpenters interview injured workers using a standard format. Sites where falls occur are visited to assess fall hazards and factors reflecting overall safety climate. Worker and investigator report factors that could have prevented injury. The evaluation of falls in the first reporting year* are described.

Twenty-five falls (68% from elevations) have been investigated accounting for 14% of injuries. Half of falls from the same level resulted in lost time compared to 66% of falls from elevations - which were also more serious. The vast majority of falls occurred on single-family sites at the stage of first level framing. Over half of victims had over 5 years experience with their task when they fell and only 13% had less than a year of experience. 83% who fell from the same level were aware of a site fall protection plan compared to 55% who fell from elevations.

Same level falls were related to site conditions - grade of lot, wet/frost, housekeeping. Workers felt these could have been prevented by more attention to task and less emphasis on speed. Falls from elevations occurred because of uncovered openings, lack of rails or personal protective equipment, ladder/scaffold failures, actions of co-workers. Findings document training needs for scaffold assembly, movement and work practices, equipment maintenance, coordination of tasks. Workers commonly attribute falls to their own behavior but more often for falls from the same level.

* These data (first 7 months) will be updated before presentation


F6.4 Nail Gun Injuries in Construction: Need for Gun Control?-Dement JM, Lipscomb HJ, Li L, Nolan J, Patterson D

The nail gun is a potentially dangerous device commonly used in construction. Data were combined from 3 sources to collect information about injuries resulting from nail guns among construction workers. Workers' compensation records were obtained for non-union homebuilders (7500 contractors; 9,205 injuries) in North Carolina 1995-1999 and union carpenters (13,487 carpenters; 4,138 injuries) in the state of Ohio 1994-1997. Relevant injuries were identified from text data from first reports of injury. These records-based data were supplemented with information collected in the first year of an active injury reporting and investigation program among unionized residential and drywall carpenters in Missouri representing 3 million work hours per year. The latter provided more detailed descriptions of the circumstances of injury and potential points of intervention.

We reviewed 450 injuries resulting from nail guns. Among residential carpenters/homebuilders, nail gun injuries account for the largest proportion of injuries resulting from being struck (20-35%). The vast majority of injuries involved the extremities and eyes. However one individual was shot in the chest, one was shot in the head and three sustained head injuries from falling guns. A number of victims were not actually operating the guns themselves when injured. Their injuries resulted from complete penetration of the receiving structure and accidentally discharging guns.

Ricocheting nails or wood, accidental discharge, penetration of structures, falling objects, unsafe location or operation of guns and falls all contributed to these injuries. Safety mechanisms for these devices were often bypassed. Findings indicate that combined engineering design improvements, personal protective equipment such as appropriate eye protection, housekeeping improvements to prevent falls, and effective operator training could decrease these common and potentially devastating injuries.


F6.5 Eye Injuries at a Large Construction Project: A Better Understanding Through Compensation Data and Injury Investigations-Jackson LL, Borgerding JA, Lowery JT, Glazner JE

The construction of Denver International Airport (DIA) in 1989 through 1994 represented more than 31 million hours of work completed by over 32,000 workers. In December 1990, an owner-controlled insurance program (OCIP) began providing workers' compensation insurance for all contractors and included an on-site medical clinic and designated provider/medical referral system.

We analyzed the OCIP injury database of 4,634 claims with medical payments along with injury reports (for ~90% of claims) and accident investigation reports (for ~50% of claims) from the building of DIA to develop a better understanding of construction-related eye injury risk factors.

An estimated 14% (649 claims) of compensation claims with medical treatment (other than simple first aid) were eye injuries. Eye injuries occurred mostly to men (96%) who were frequently younger than 40 (66%). A foreign body in the eye was most frequently reported (87%) with some burn (8%), contusion (2%), and laceration (1.5%) eye injuries. The majority of eye injuries occurred disproportionately to special trade contractors-SIC 17 (68%). Heavy construction contractors, SIC 16, and building construction, SIC 15, had far fewer eye injuries (15% and 10%, respectively). Among the construction trades, electricians had the most eye injuries (30%), followed by cement masons (19%), operating engineers (13%), plumbers (10%), and iron workers (9%).

Injury investigation reports provided additional details on the injury event and for about one half of the injuries indicated if safety eye protection was worn at the time of injury. Among these cases with additional information, most workers reported wearing some form of safety eye protection at the time of injury and that objects commonly went around the protection-particularly when working overhead.

The OCIP injury data in combination with the investigation reports provide a unique prospective on construction eye injuries.



NOIRS 2000 Menu Page
NIOSH home page  CDC home page  NORA Traumatic Injury home page 
NIOSH - National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health CDC - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention NORA - National Occupational Research Agenda
Page last updated: March 2001
Page last reviewed: March 2001
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Division of Safety Research