Proportionate mortality ratios (PMRs) and proportionate cancer mortality ratios (PCMRs) were determined among 13,301 construction ironworkers. The subjects consisted of members of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, and Ornamental Ironworkers who died between 1984 and 1991. The general US population served as the reference group. White males composed 96.6% of the cohort. A significant mortality excess was calculated for fatal injuries due to falls, with a PMR of 3.57. While death caused by all malignant neoplasms was elevated, this increase was mainly due to lung cancer and pleural mesothelioma, with PMRs of 1.28 and 1.67, respectively. While the PMR calculated for pneumoconiosis and other respiratory diseases was slightly elevated at 1.11, the PMR for asbestosis, 3.56, was markedly elevated. The PMRs for such diseases as ischemic heart disease, vascular disease, liver cirrhosis, and nervous system diseases were significantly reduced, compared to the general population. The PCMRs for respiratory system cancer, lung cancer and cancers of other sites were significantly elevated, with values of 1.17, 1.18, and 1.18, respectively. The PMRs for falls according to years of union membership were 8.36 within the first 10 years of membership and 6.53 from 10 to 19 years of membership. The PMRs for cancer of all sites increased with increasing years of union membership and increasing age. The average age at death for all causes combined, 69, was significantly higher than that for all fatal injuries, 47. Significantly increased PMRs were calculated for all fatal injuries for ironworkers, for transportation and fall injuries for structural ironworkers, and for falls for rodmen, finishers, and welders. The authors conclude that research concerning the causes and prevention of injuries among ironworkers is needed. They recommend the implementation of interventions designed to reduce mortality risks due to falls, welding fumes, and asbestos (1332214) exposure.
Frank B. Stern, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 4676 Columbia Parkway, MS-13, Cincinnati, OH 45226