Workers' compensation experience of North Carolina residential construction workers, 1986-1994.
A total of 31,113 workers' compensation claims among 7,400 North Carolina Homebuilders Association (NCHA) members and their subcontractors for the period 1986-1994 were analyzed to calculate workers' compensation claim incidence density rates. For the 7 years studied, the average rate (cases/200,000 work hours) for all claims was 16.40 and the rate for medical or lost time cases was 10.78. Highest rates for cases involving medical costs or paid lost time by mechanism of injury were observed for being struck by an object (3.1), lifting/movement (1.97), falls from a different level (1.13), striking against an object (0.87), and falls on the same level (0.46). Rates by mechanism of injury were highest for muscle strains (2.34), wounds/punctures (2.33), bruises/contusions (1.24), fractures/dislocations (0.98), and injuries to the eyes (0.81). Among medical cost or lost work time cases, body parts with highest injury rates were back/shoulders (1.99), fingers (1.31), leg/knee (1.00), hand/wrist (1.00), foot/ankle (0.86), and eyes (0.82). Injury rates were found to vary substantially among the residential construction trades. For more serious injuries involving medical costs greater than $2,000 or any lost work time, rates were highest for welders and cutters (28.1), insulators (24.3), roofers (19.4), and carpenters (15.3). The same general trends by trade were observed for cases involving paid lost time except that roofers were highest, with a rate of 9.1, followed by insulators (8.5), welders and cutters (5.8), and carpenters (5.8). Rates of falls from a different level resulting in medical costs or lost work time were highest for roofers (5.54), insulators (3.53), carpenters (2.05), and drywall installers (1.99). Descriptive information for falls from a different level resulting in paid lost time during 1993-1994 (n = 219) were reviewed to better determine the causes and circumstances of injuries. Falls from a roof accounted for 25.4 percent of the cases followed by falls involving scaffolds (23.9%) and ladders (20.6%), and falls from ceiling joists, floor joists, or framing (14.8%). Twenty-six work-related deaths occurred with vehicle accidents (n = 6) being the major known cause of death, followed by falls (n = 3), being struck by an object (n = 3), electric shock (n = 2), and contact with energy or chemicals (n = 2). Consistent with other analyses of workers' compensation data, chronic occupational diseases are not well captured in the workers' compensation claims among home builders; therefore, a companion study has examined mortality patterns among North Carolina construction workers.
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