Work-related injuries in drywall installation

Appl Occup Environ Hyg. 2000 Oct;15(10):794-802. doi: 10.1080/10473220050129437.


Administrative data sources were used to describe the work-related injuries of drywall carpenters, to calculate rates of occurrence, and to explore high risk sub-groups. Health insurance eligibility files were used to identify a cohort of active union carpenters affiliated with a union local whose predominant work involved drywall installation in the state of Washington. These files contained the hours worked by each individual for each month between January 1989 and December 1995, providing person-hours at risk as a union carpenter. The Washington Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) provided records of workers' compensation claims filed by these individuals. Over seven years 1773 drywall carpenters filed 2567 workers' compensation claims representing an overall rate of 53.3 per 200,000 hours worked. These claims were filed by 1046 different individuals, or 59.0 percent of the cohort. Claims resulting in paid lost time from work were filed at a rate of 12.5 per 200,000 hours worked (n = 609) by 445 (25.1%) different individuals. The most common mechanisms of injury involved being struck (38.3%), overexertion (28.1%), and falls (13.2%). Struck by injuries most commonly involved cuts to the upper extremity. Overexertion injuries were most commonly described as sprains or strains involving the back. Sheetrock was associated with over 40 percent of these injuries. Falls most commonly involved injuries to the knee followed by the back and multiple injuries. Struck by injuries decreased steadily with increasing age and increasing time in the union. There was a steady increase in the rate of falls with increasing age. Overexertion injuries were responsible for the greatest proportion of costs for medical care, permanent impairment, and paid lost days. The high rates of overexertion injuries among these workers is consistent with known ergonomic stresses on drywall jobs. However, these workers are also at high risk of acute traumatic injuries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cost of Illness
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Diseases / economics
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control
  • Regression Analysis
  • Washington / epidemiology
  • Workers' Compensation / statistics & numerical data
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*