Bradley Evanoff, MD, MPH
Washington University, St. Louis
Given that falls from heights remain the leading cause of fatalities at residential construction sites, Dr. Evanoff and his team used surveys and focus groups of apprentices and residential foremen in Year One to identify gaps in on-the-job fall prevention training and mentorship. Among the team’s findings are:
- Most apprentices want direct mentorship and feedback. However,
foremen say they are uncomfortable in giving positive feedback.
- Foremen are unclear where OSHA standards end and company
policy begins. They feel a constant need to juggle safety with
production and find it difficult to routinely follow fall prevention
- Inexperienced apprentices want senior carpenters to show them
how to apply what they learned in school to specific work situations,
but apprentices see a disconnect when senior carpenters
perform unsafe acts.
- Apprentices say toolbox talks could be more helpful if they
were relevant to actual work tasks.
The researchers identified fall prevention technologies to protect workers during roof truss layout and installation. After piloting the “wall-walker” hanging scaffold system at 15 worksites, they found fall risks decreased due to less work from ladders and less walking on the truss. Most crew members found the system easy to use.
Research Team & Partners: Victoria Kaskutas, OTR/L, OTD, Washington University, St. Louis; Hester Lipscomb, PhD, Duke University; Carpenters District Council of Greater St. Louis and Vicinity; Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Program.
Despite efforts by workers, unions, employers, safety professionals, researchers, and governmental agencies, falls from heights remain a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in construction and recognized fall prevention methods continue to be practiced inconsistently. Many factors contribute to the fall epidemic in construction workers, including worker training and behavior, employer practices and safety culture, and availability of fall prevention and fall arrest equipment. The overall goal of this proposal is to improve fall protection safety of carpenters working residential construction through supervisor-based safety training and mentorship program and the regular use of fall prevention devices. Our proposal has four specific aims: 1: Measure long-term changes in fall protection knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors resulting from a school-based educational intervention in apprentice carpenters. 2: Evaluate on-the-job fall protection safety training received by apprentice and journeyman carpenters, including both formal instruction (safety talks) and informal instruction (mentoring and direct feedback from foremen and senior carpenters). 3: Implement and measure the effects of a supervisory-based safety intervention. 4: Explore the benefits and barriers to use of commercially available fall prevention technologies in residential construction, and promote the use of underutilized technologies. The project will follow the conceptual framework described by NIOSH for evaluation of strategies to prevent work injuries, moving through organizational and development phases prior to intervention, collection of outcome measures, analyses, and reporting. We will collect quantitative data from apprentice carpenters to measure the ongoing effectiveness of a school-based educational intervention. Focus groups, surveys, and direct observation will assess the effectiveness of worksite-based fall prevention training and mentoring by the crew foremen, and measure the effects of a worksite-based intervention to improve fall prevention instruction and mentorship of crewmembers. Both quantitative and qualitative data will measure the efficacy of using fall prevention technologies at residential worksites. This proposed project builds on the relationships from previous funded fall prevention research with the St. Louis Carpenters’ Joint Apprenticeship Program, the Carpenters’ District Council of Greater St. Louis and Vicinity, and residential contracting companies in the St. Louis region. St. Louis represents the nation’s largest unionized residential carpenter workforce in a single geographic area.
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