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Use of text data from injury reports/investigations to understand falls from height in construction.

Lipscomb HJ; Glazner JE; Bondy J; Lezotte DC; Guarini K
NOIRS 2003: Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium, October 28-30, 2003, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh, PA: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2003 Oct; :84
Falls from height (FFH) are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality among construction workers. Working with data from the building of Denver International Airport , we combined three data sources - payroll data, coded Workers' Compensation (WC) data, and text descriptions from First Reports of Injury and injury investigations - to create a more comprehensive picture of such injuries than is possible from coded WC data alone, which typically lack both information on populations at risk and detail about circumstances surrounding the injury. Payroll and WC coded data were used to calculate injury rates and associated costs. Text descriptions were analyzed to identify circumstances surrounding falls and prevention opportunities. Contributing factors were categorized using a modification of Haddon's matrix designed to identify contributions of agent, host, environment and organizational factors. FFH occurred at a rate of 1.8 per 100 full-time workers, accounting for 15% of injuries. They resulted in an average of 298 paid lost workdays and were responsible for a disproportionate share of WC payments: $500 per full-time worker per year and over $30,000 average cost per injury. Slips/trips preceded one-third of FFH; most of these involved motor vehicles or heavy equipment. Thirty percent of FFH involved movement or collapse of work surfaces, usually ladders, scaffolds, motor vehicles or heavy equipment. While coded WC data are easier to analyze, text data allow both exploration of factors not identified at the time of data collection and better understanding of the context in which injuries occur. In these analyses, we identified the significant contribution of motor vehicles and heavy equipment to the burden of injury due to FFH as well as the contributions of slips/trips and collapsing surfaces. These findings were not apparent from coded compensation data. Haddon's matrix provided a framework to identify multiple points of intervention.
Injuries; Construction; Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Occupational-hazards; Occupational-accidents; Morbidity-rates; Mortality-data; Mortality-rates; Environmental-factors; Workers; Worker-health; Work-environment; Ladders; Scaffolds; Construction-equipment; Construction-materials; Motor-vehicles; Injury-prevention
Publication Date
Document Type
Abstract; Conference/Symposia Proceedings
Funding Amount
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Priority Area
Research Tools and Approaches: Surveillance Research Methods
Source Name
NOIRS 2003: Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium, October 28-30, 2003, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Performing Organization
University of Colorado, Health Services Center, Denver, Colorado
Page last reviewed: May 11, 2023
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division