Samuel House

Project title: Occupational Falls in Non-Construction Industries

Degree: MS | Program: Occupational & Environmental Exposure Sciences (OEES) | Project type: Thesis/Dissertation
Completed in: 2017 | Faculty advisor: Martin A. Cohen


Background: Falls are the second leading cause of occupational injury and the second leading cause of occupational fatalities in the United States. An occupational fall can lead to a non-time loss injury, loss of work, disability, or in severe cases, death. These injuries can have dire effects on the lives of workers impacted, through loss of their livelihood or in some cases, their life. Indirect costs can also be felt by the affected worker’s family and their workplace. Objectives: This study aims to determine the rate at which occupational fall-related injuries occur in non-construction industries in Washington State, and to determine best steps forward considering how these injuries might be reduced or prevented. Methods: Workers’ compensation claims were identified in the Washington State Labor and Industries Industrial Insurance System for workers who have suffered a fall, as defined by Occupational Injury and Illness Classification System codes. The claims were then categorized based on the industry of their employer, as defined by the North American Industry Classification System codes to identify which industries had the highest rates of falls. The claims were described by occupation, industry, type of fall, source or cause of fall, injury types, and cost. Using these factors, trends in occupational falls and the associated injuries were investigated. Results: Agriculture, Medical, and Service industry sectors were found to be industries where prevention efforts would be best focused regarding occupational falls. Prevention efforts could also be focused using cost data, both total cost, and average cost. Prevention efforts may be best focused on injuries that result in severe injury to the worker requiring immediate hospitalization. Conclusions: Further research is needed to determine the characteristics of specific industry group fall injuries in order to better guide prevention efforts. This data is best served as a guiding document for selection of industry groups most in need of prevention efforts, especially those outside the already identified construction industries. URI