Rates of and circumstances surrounding work-related falls from height among union drywall carpenters in Washington State, 1989-2008.
BACKGROUND: Drywall installers are at high risk for work-related falls from height (FFH). METHODS: We defined a 20-year (1989-2008) cohort of 5,073 union drywall carpenters in Washington State, their worker-hours, and FFH. FFH rate patterns were examined using Poisson regression. RESULTS: Drywall installers' FFH rates declined over time and varied little by worker age and time in the union. However, among FFH involving drywall sheets, workers with <10 union years were at high risk. Narratives consistently described the surface from which workers fell, commonly scaffolds (33%), ladders (21%), and stilts (13%). Work task, height fallen, protective equipment use, work speed, weather, influence of other workers/workgroups, and tool/equipment specifics were not often reported. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: In addition to continued efforts to prevent falls from scaffolds and ladders, efforts should address stilt use and less experienced workers who may have greater exposure. Consistency in reported narrative elements may improve FFH risk factor identification and prevention effort evaluation.
Schoenfisch, A; Lipscomb, H; Cameron, W; Adams, D; Silverstein, B
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