Background: The Denver International Airport construction project provided a rare opportunity to identify risk factors for injury on a large construction project for which 769 contractors were hired to complete 2,843 construction contracts. Workers' compensation claims and payroll data for individual contracts were recorded in an administrative database developed by the project's Owner-Controlled Insurance Program.
Methods: From claims andy payroll data linked with employee demographic information, we calculated injury rates per 200,000 person-hours by contract and over contract characteristics of interest. We used Poisson regression models to examine contract-specific risk factors in relation to total injuries, lost-work-time (LWT), and non-LWT injuries. We included contract-specific expected loss rates (ELRs) in the model to control for prevailing risk of work and used logistic regression methods to determine the association between LWT and non-LWT injuries on contracts.
Results: Injury rates were highest during the first year of construction, at the beginning of contracts, and among older workers. Risk for total and non-LWT injuries was elevated for building construction contracts, contract for special trades companies (SIC 17), contracts with payrolls over $1 million, and those with overtime payrolls greater than 20%. Risk for LWT injuries only was increased for site development contracts and contract starting in the first year of construction. Contracts experiencing one or more minor injuries were four times as likely to have at least one major injury (OR = 4.0, 95% CI (2.9, 5.5)).
Conclusions: Enhancement of DIA's safety infrastructure during the second year of construction appears to have been effective in reducing serious (LWT) injures. The absence of correlation between injury rates among contracts belonging to the same company suggest that targeting of safety resources at the level of the contract may be an effective approach to injury prevention. Interventions focused on high-risk contracts, including those with considerable overtime work, contracts held by special trades contractors (SIC 17), and contracts belonging to small and mid-sized companies, and on high-risk workers, such as those new to a construction site or new to a contract may reduce injury burden on large construction sites. The join occurrence of minor and major injuries on a contract level suggests that surveillance of minor injuries may be useful in identifying opportunities for prevention of major injures.