Undoubtedly ironwork in the steel erection is one of the most dangerous jobs to have. With the growing workforce in the United States, there is even more a conserve of the fall hazard that the Ironworker faces every day on the construction work site. However, little research about the relationship of age and the Ironworker has been done. This paper hopes to use a cross sectional study to shine a little light on the relationship Ironworkers and age are associated with hazardous falls. Through the use of latitude research of The Proust Newsstand (ProQuest®), PsycInfo (EBSCOhost®), Google scholar and citation linker to find peer reviewed journals. Also in using data from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fatality Assessment Control and Evaluation (FACE) and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in supporting the relationship between hazardous falls do to age in ironworker.
It has been well documented about the dangers that are associated with the construction industry from injuries to fatalities. Despite the efforts from Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and many others, the occurrence of hazardous falls is a major source of risk in the United States. “The data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries shows that there were a total of 4,383 fatal injuries on the job in the U.S. in 2012, down from 4,693 in 2011”. ([BLS], 2013) Out of those fatal injuries 16% were related to fatal falls in the construction industry. ([BLS], 2013) In the private construction industry, there were 775 fatalities in the construction industry, resulting in 19.5% of construction worker deaths in the private industry reported by the BLS in 2012. The number one leading cause of death in the construction industry is from falls resulting from 36% of the deaths in contraction.
In the United States, the occurrence of job related fatalities are now even higher in the group of aging Ironworkers. Between the years of 1946 and 1964 there were 76 million people born in the United States that are now referred to as “baby boomers”. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that the aging workforce of the United States will have 55 million workers 45 years old or older by the year 2015. By 2030, 40% of the workforce in the United States will be 65 years old, which will leave fewer replacements from the younger generation in those jobs that have been left. ([BLS], 2013) From the physical effort, stress, and demand that are placed on the construction worker have shown a relationship to early retirement. (AARP, 2012)
At the top of the list of the most dangerous jobs to have in the United States is the Ironworker. With job retainment being held at about 58,100 jobs in 2012. (BLS) “Structural and reinforcing iron and metal workers are employed in all parts of the country, but most work in metropolitan areas, where the bulk of commercial and industrial construction takes place.” (CPWR, 2010) “Work-related deaths from falls among Ironworkers are 10 times higher than the construction average. More Ironworkers are killed from falls (38.7 per 100,000 full-time workers) than workers in any other construction occupation. “ (Health)
The Ironworker faces dangerous environmental conditions on a daily occurrence solidifying their ranking as one of the most dangerous jobs to have. The unique hazards Ironworkers face are just another issue that increases risk for the Ironworker. Some of the hazardous conditions that Ironworkers have to deal are working with large, heavy materials or loads that must be lifted and placed into position. Some areas that the ironworker working on can be unstable working surfaces and unsafe access to the work area for them increasing hazard conditions daily. The movement of heavy materials by cranes for forklift could strike the ironwork knocking them off an elevated surface, trapping them between the loads or even crushing them on the work site. Another issue that comes up with the ironworker is controlling of a heavy load into a workplace. Foot positioning is crucial on the construction worksite for the ironworker. Having a narrow footing or unstable foot positioning while working increases the likelihood of a worker falling. (CPWR, 2010)
Several factors that contribute to falls relating them to 125 fatalities (75.3%) in steel erection. (Beaver, 2009) The lack of fall protection is the leading contributor at 42 fatalities from falls to the Ironworker. There were 35 fatalities by workers not properly secure to the workers themselves or an anchor point as well, there was 31 fatalities associated to lost of balance from the worker on the work site. (Beaver, 2009)
There has been very little research done in the relation to fall hazards the Ironworker faces even though it continue to rank among one of the most hazardous jobs. In order to look further into these hazards that are associated with the Ironworker, one would need to establish a relationship to the older Ironworker and fall hazard they face day to day on the construction site. Some underlying issues that could be looked at to see a relation in fall hazards for the Ironworker would be the safety training the ironworker receives. Reviewing if the training is adequate and if the worker receives additional training though out their career. Also, reviewing if the ironworker is using the proper protective equipment for the job they are doing and if the equipment in good condition. There are a number of issues that could reduce and hopefully eliminate fall hazards on the worksite to reduce the risk associated with Ironworkers. (CPWR, 2010)
There is a need to understand the limitations of aging workers while performing their daily job duties and there should be an emphasis on those aging workers in extreme hazardous jobs. There is no standard definition of “older” or aging worker. The U.S. Department of Labor uses >40 years in some statistics, while some Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) uses >45 years for injury and illness reporting. The AARP defines the aging worker as 50 years or older; the U.S. Office of Aging describes older ‘citizens’ as older than 55 years; and the United Nations recognized this group as 60 years or older. Baby boomers are generally described as those born between 1946 and 1964. ((SOEH)) The “older worker,” as defined under the Age Discrimination and Employment Act (ADEA), is 40 years or older. This group will soon make up the largest portion of the working population in the United States and should be considered a valuable economic resource deserving special attention. (K.M. Kowalski-Trakofter, 2005)
The purpose of this study is to describe trends and patterns of hazardous falls that occur from aging Ironworkers in the steel erection industry. The cross sectional study develops the answer to the hypothesis that Ironworker’s age has no relationship to hazardous falls on the construction site.
The search of literature was developed through the following databases available at the time during of this study through the UW-Whitewater library website: The ProQuest Newsstand (ProQuest®), PsycInfo (EBSCOhost®), Google scholar and citation linker to find peer reviewed journals. These resources helped to identify and establish several keywords to be used in the searches that would include: Ironworker, safety, risk, falls hazards, construction worker, fetal falls, age and hazards, which would produce better results in the searches though the databases.
The results of the search through the databases produced peer review articles. Only articles with relation to construction Ironworker, fall hazards, and the aging work force was selected for review. The search string though the UW-Whitewater library database was done by selecting only peer review published articles and articles published after 2004. This yielded 54 articles with the references to “ironworker”. This process was replicated several more times in the UW-Whitewater database with more key words such as “fall hazards”, “construction worker,” and “aging worker”. The articles were narrowed down to produce more in depth results by stringing together key words to further this study. Characteristics started to emerge within this method of research using the databases. The same technique was used to research the Google scholar database, which yielded very similar results.
Several articles were reviewed met the criteria that focused on several characteristics that were developed during the relevant peer review article searches. The articles were internally read. The citations were used from the articles provided. The use of the citation linker provided on the UW-Whitewater library database furthered the research needed to develop the hypothesis. The citation linker established an understanding of the rebellions of the information that was provided in the database giving a new perspective to other articles with the narrowing of information but with similar results to Google scholar that was done.
Empirical studies were selected for the direct and indirect values the data provided. Other studies were observed for the value of another perspective of fall hazards and age in relation to the ironworker. Evidence that was collected through quantifying the information could be displayed in a qualitative form. The articles that met the criteria for the study were reviewed.
The use of two large and represented nation dataset from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fatality Assessment Control and Evaluation (FACE) and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) had to be available to be analyzed in the study. The information that was provided by the sources had datasets that could provide information that age had a relation to hazardous falls and Ironworkers on the construction site.
The first source chosen for this research was the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fatality Assessment Control and Evaluation (FACE) program. The FACE program is charged with the responsibility to investigate fatalities in all industries, to determine causal factors, and to publish findings with the intent of providing educational materials so that accident causes can be eliminated or reduced. (NIOSH, 2011) During the on site investigation data collected are “type of industry involved, number of employees in the company, company safety program, victim’s age, sex, occupation, working environment, tasks the victim performed, tools or equipment the victim was using, energy exchange resulting in fatal injury and role of management in controlling how these factors interact is published in the report.” (NIOSH, 2011)
The second resource dataset analyzed was from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Dataset information from the BLS was the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI); the Value of a Statistical Life (VSL) and the Current Population Survey (CPS) provided empirical data to be analyzed. The datasets are broken down by 10 occupations into 50- 72 industries categories that in 2003 became nations North American Industrial Classification codes for industries and the Standard Occupational Classification codes for occupations to reduce the errors accosted with individual occupational reporting. (BLS, 2013) There is data collected from all 50 states in the United States by type of “industry involved, number of employees in the company, company safety program, victim’s age, sex, occupation, working environment, tasks the victim was performing, tools or equipment the victim was using, energy exchange resulting in fatal injury, and the role of management in controlling how these factors interact.” (BLS, 2013) The information is compiled from death certificates, workers’ causation reports, OSHA reports, medical examiner reports and newspaper articles.
It could be considered that there could will be limitation in the study. The first limitation could come from the information that is received from the databases National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Fatality Assessment Control and Evaluation (FACE) program and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The datasets of hazardous falls, injuries or deaths could be overestimated or underestimated in these databases. The age of the worker could be recorded wrong, resulting in miss calculations though out the study. Finally, information needs to be concise in regards to the environment that is worked in, the health and safety training they received, availability of fall prevention equipment, and climate the Ironworker is working in. These limitations need to be addressed to find the true relation to fall hazards in the older Ironworker.
This study will look into seeing if there is any relationship of fall hazards and the older Ironworker. Establishing a literature review in strengthening my prediction that there is a relationship between hazards and the older Ironworker using studies in researching for correlation between the two. Using the databases of NIOSH and BLS will add value and support the study with statistical data. In the search of the true risks associated to fall hazards in the older Ironworker, I hope the study helps in the development of solutions for the reasons that are found in the study in aiding in the reduction in fall hazards in the older Ironworker.
(SOEH), T. A. Healthy Aging for a Sustainable Workforce. NIOSH.
[BLS], B. o. (2013, August 29). Death on the job: fatal work injuries in 2011 : Beyond the Numbers : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved 3 13, 2014, from http://www.bls.gov/opub/btn/volume-2/death-on-the-job-fatal-work-injuries-in-2011.htm
AARP. (2012, sept 5). A Profile of Older Americans: 2011. Retrieved 4 22, 2014, from AARP: http://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/learn/demographics/info-12-2012/profile-older-americans-2011.html
Beaver, J. E. (2009 , March ). Steel Erection Fatalities in the ConstructionIndustry. Journal of Contruction Enginering and Management .
CPWR. (2010). Analysis of Work-Related Safety & Health Hazards of Unrepresented Workers in the Iron Working Industry. The Center for Construction Research and Training. The Center For Construction Research and Training.
Health, E. L. (n.d.). The Construction Chart Book 4th Edition. Retrieved from ELCOSH: http://www.elcosh.org/document/1059/268/d000038/sect37.html
K.M. Kowalski-Trakofter, L. D. (2005). Safety Considerations for the Aging Workforce. Safety Sciences , 43, 779-793.