268284 Improving construction worker safety through foremen's fall prevention and safety communication training

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Vicki Kaskutas, MHS, OTD , Division of General Medical Sciences, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
Ann Marie Dale, PhD , Division of General Medical Sciences, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
John Mormann , Southern Illinois Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Program, Belleville, IL
Lynda Drendel-Mueller, BA , St. Louis Carpenters' Joint Apprenticeship Program, St. Louis, MO
Amber Yun, BS , General Medical Sciences, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO
Brad Evanoff, MD, MPH , Division of General Medical Sciences, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Background/Objectives: Falls from heights account for 64% of residential construction worker fatalities and 20% of missed work days. We hypothesized that worker safety would improve after foremen received training in fall prevention and safety communication.

Methods: Training priorities identified through foreman and apprentice focus groups (n=48) and surveys (n=409) were integrated into an 8-hour intervention. Seventeen foremen from a large residential contractor participated in this ongoing study. Carpenter trainers contrasted proper methods to protect workers from falls during home construction with methods observed at the foremen's worksites. Foremen manipulated fall prevention technologies on a building prop and identified solutions for each building stage in small work groups. Trainers presented methods to deliver toolbox talks and safety messages. Results from worksite observational audits (n=25) and foremen/crewmember surveys (n=91) administered before and after training were compared using descriptive and nonparametric statistics.

Results: We observed many statistically significant improvements. Frequency of daily toolbox talks increased (14% to 69%) and these talks became more interactive and focused on hazardous daily work tasks. Crewmembers' knowledge about the fall prevention plan and unsafe practices increased (36% to 92%) as safety communication improved. Foremen reported increased use of personal fall arrest from 25% to 81%. Prior to training, auditors rarely observed fall arrest, but it was common post-training. Unsafe behaviors decreased greatly, such as working on walls and floor joists without fall protection.

Conclusions: Initial results from an ongoing study demonstrated increased worker safety due to foremen participation in a problem-based fall prevention and safety communication intervention.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Occupational health and safety
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss strategies used in the training to increase learning and impact behavior. 2. Describe improvements in knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes that can be attributed to the intervention.

Keywords: Workplace Safety, Construction Injuries

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the co-investigator on both this project and a prior funded research study to prevent falls from heights in residential construction workers through apprentice carpenter training. I was been principal investigator of a funded research project to provide technological interventions to protect workers from falls. I have also been principal investigator of studies to enhance individuals' ability to work following acquired health conditions, including flexor tendon injury and stroke.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.