Twenty years of workers' compensation costs due to falls from height among union carpenters, Washington State

BACKGROUND: Falls from height (FFH) are a longstanding, serious problem in construction.
METHODS: We report workers' compensation (WC) payments associated with FFH among a cohort (n = 24,830; 1989-2008) of carpenters. Mean/median payments, cost rates, and adjusted rate ratios based on hours worked were calculated using negative-binomial regression.
RESULTS: Over the 20-year period FFH accounted for $66.6 million in WC payments or $700 per year for each fulltime equivalent (2,000 hr of work). FFH were responsible for 5.5% of injuries but 15.1% of costs. Cost declines were observed, but not monotonically. Reductions were more pronounced for indemnity than medical care. Mean costs were 2.3 times greater among carpenters over 50 than those under 30; cost rates were only modestly higher.
CONCLUSIONS: Significant progress has been made in reducing WC payments associated with FFH in this cohort particularly through 1996; primary gains reflect reduction in frequency of falls. FFH that occur remain costly.

Source: Lipscomb HJ, Schoenfisch AL, Cameron W, Kucera KL, Adams D, Silverstein BA. Am. J. Ind. Med. 2014. 
http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajim.22339 
 

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