NOIRS 1997 Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 1997. Washington, DC: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1997 Oct; :33
To identify and describe trends in traumatic occupational fatalities due to falls from elevations, review recommended prevention strategies, and describe the approach of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to traumatic occupational fatality investigation and prevention. This study uses data from the National Traumatic Occupational Fatalities (NTOF), and Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) databases to describe trends and rates of fatalities of workers due to falls from elevations, over a 12-year period. The FACE program, which utilizes the traditional epidemiologic agent-host-environment model to accurately describe the pre-event, event, and post-event phases of fatal occupational injuries, is conducted in the areas of falls from elevations, logging, and machinery- related fatalities. Through surveillance and epidemiologic investigations, potential risk factors are identified and injury prevention strategies developed. During the period 1980 through 1991, approximately 72,500 U.S. civilian workers died from traumatic injuries suffered in the workplace according to data from NTOF. Over this 12-year period, an estimated 6,721 of these deaths occurred due to falls from elevations. Although the trend of falls from elevations declined from .68 per 100,000 workers in 1980 to .38 in 1991, falls from elevations remain the 4th leading cause of death Nationwide. Between October 1982 and present, the NIOSH FACE program has investigated 79 fatal incidents that involved workers who died as a result of falling from an elevation. Recommended injury-prevention strategies include working in compliance with national safety standards, establishing and implementing written safe work procedures, using proper personal protective equipment and providing appropriate worker training. Approximately 560 workers die each year from falls from elevations in the course of everyday work situations, and falls remain the 4th leading cause of occupational injury fatalities Nationwide. In order to reduce these numbers, surveillance, dissemination of prevention strategies, and additional research need to be continued. The FACE model has been demonstrated as an effective tool for identifying and describing fatal occupational injuries and developing prevention strategies. The FACE data has been used to produce targeted dissemination of prevention strategies, and to provide input into the promulgation of national safety standards.