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Nature of construction industry eye injuries treated in emergency departments.

Long DJ; Layne LA; Jackson LL
NOIRS 1997 Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium 1997. Washington, DC: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 1997 Oct; :52
For most of the last twenty years the construction industry has had the highest rate of nonfatal serious injury of any U.S. industrial sector (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Our analysis of emergency department cases recorded in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) indicated that emergency medicine departments treated an estimated 240,300 +/- 51,800 (CI95) work-related eye injuries in the United States from October 1995 through September 1996. Of those eye injuries 16% (37,700 +/- 12,600 CI95) occurred to construction workers. Eye injuries represented 11% of all types of traumatic injury among construction workers. We are studying the epidemiology of eye injuries among injured construction workers from this national sample to determine risk factors for specific occupations and work tasks that will lead to better eye injury prevention strategies. NEISS is a national stratified probability sample of all hospitals in the United States that provide 24-hour emergency department services. Four hundred thirty-three case records were collected for construction worker eye injuries from October 1, 1995 through September 30, 1996 from 65 nationally sampled hospitals through a collaborative agreement between the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Each NEISS injury record contains demographics of the injured worker, occupation and industry information when available, and a narrative description of the injury incident. From the narrative description of the injury, we further coded work activity, tools used, materials handled, and outcome of injury. Using a statistical weighting factor for each case we calculated national estimates for various eye injury characteristics. Confidence intervals were calculated using simple linear expansion to account for the complex sample design. Nationally, 98% (37,100+12,400 CI95) of these construction eye injuries occurred to males. Forty-one percent (15,500+8,000 CI95) of all workers were 20 to 29 years old and 33% (12,300+3500 CI95) were 30 to 39 years old at the time of injury. Seventy-eight percent (29,400+12,000 CI95) of the injured workers were white, and 5% (1,700+1,000 CI95) were black. Most eye injuries occurred to relatively young, white male construction workers following the general demographic trends for the construction industry. For all eye injuries, about 70% were foreign bodies in the eye, 13% were struck by injuries, and 6% ultraviolet burns or keratitis. Although the details of work activity at the time of the injury were frequently missing from these surveillance system records, several common construction tasks were identified that resulted in eye injuries. For example, sawing was indicated as the work task for 16% of the foreign body eye injuries and hammering or pounding was indicated in 10% of the struck by injuries. In 91% of the ultraviolet burn cases, the injured person was clearly identified as either welding or in the area of someone else welding at the time of injury. A large number of these injuries are preventable. Although the majority of the injuries are relatively minor, they still represent a significant loss of productivity and medical expense that are avoidable through better engineering controls and utilization of proper eye and face protection.
Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Eye-injuries; Emergency-care; Emergency-treatment; Health-care-facilities; Medical-care; Traumatic-injuries; Injuries; Epidemiology; Risk-factors; Risk-analysis; Injury-prevention; Sampling; Sampling-methods; Demographic-characteristics; Age-factors; Age-groups; Racial-factors; Sex-factors; Engineering-controls
Publication Date
Document Type
Conference/Symposia Proceedings; Abstract
Fiscal Year
NIOSH Division
Source Name
NOIRS 1997 Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium
Page last reviewed: January 27, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division