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Gaceta Sanitaria

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BENAVIDES, F.G. et al. Analysis of the mechanisms of minor occupational injuries in the construction industry in Spain. Gac Sanit [online]. 2003, vol.17, n.5, pp.353-359. ISSN 0213-9111.

Objectives: The construction industry produces the highest number of occupational injuries in Spain (25.6%). Of these, 98.5% were minor injuries with 5 million workdays lost in 2000. This occurred even after the recent introduction of numerous health and occupational safety regulations. The objective of the present study was to identify the specific mechanisms of minor occupational injuries in the construction sector. Methods: In 2000, there were 235,853 minor occupational injuries in the construction industry. From these, injuries in «general construction and civil engineering» were selected (n = 155,044). These injuries affected both the total number of workers in the sector as well as bricklayers and unskilled construction workers. «Insurance and financial activities» (n = 2,019) were selected as a reference economic sector. Minor occupational injuries due to nontraumatic processes (heart attack, etc.) were taken as a control group (n = 167), assuming that the risk of nontraumatic processes was independent of economic activities. Odds ratios (OR) were adjusted by age, sex, years of work experience, type of employment and company size through nonconditional logistic regression models. Results: The mechanisms with the highest risk of minor occupational lesions in construction workers as a group compared with employees in the financial sector were projection of fragments (OR = 33.0; 95% CI, 15.3-70.8) and being struck by objects (OR = 18.2; CI 95%, 9.7-34.1). These were also the most specific mechanisms of injury in the subgroup of bricklayers and unskilled construction workers. Conclusions: Activities aimed at preventing minor occupational injuries in the construction sector should be orientated towards these mechanisms, especially projection of fragments despite the low frequency of this mechanism compared with that of other mechanisms. Case-control design is a useful alternative approach for research into occupational injuries.

Keywords : Occupational injuries; Mechanisms; Construction industry; Accident prevention; Case-control study.

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