Journal Reviews

Lowery JT, Glazner J, Borgerding JA, et al. Analysis of construction injury burden by type of work. Amer J Ind Med 2000; 37:390-399.

These researchers at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver studied injury patterns at construction sites by examining workers’ compensation claims for 32,081 workers building Denver International Airport.

They found that injury experience varied widely among different types of construction work. Workers building elevators and conduits, and those installing glass, metal, or steel, were at particularly high risk of both lost-work-time and nonlost-work-time injuries. General concrete construction and roofing also have high risks for injury. The median days lost by injured workers were the highest for truck drivers. The median days lost for most types of work were much greater than previously reported for construction: 40 days or more for 18 of the 25 types of work analyzed.

The researchers note the injury rates for some types of work were much higher than would be expected, a result that could indicate either the unreliability of the earlier data or an increased overall risk on this particular job site.

Currens JAB, Coats TJ. The timing of disability measurements following injury. Int J Care Injured 2000; 31:93-98.

To address the continuing need for a standardized measurement of disability after injury, this study was designed to define the best time at which to measure disability following trauma. Studying 201 trauma patients, the researchers used the functional independence measure (FIM) and Glasgow outcome scale (GOS) to assess the patients at three, six, 12, and more than 24 months after injury.

They determined that the best time to measure disability was the point at which a steady state was reached, the point at which functional improvement ceased. The patients’ motor FIM showed significant change between three- and six-month assessments, and between six and 12 months. There was no statistically significant change beyond 12 months.

For cognitive FIM, there was significant change between three and six months, but not beyond the six-month period. For GOS, there was significant change between three and six months and between six and 12 months, but no change beyond the 12-month mark.

"Disability measurements should be performed 12 months after injury, when patients have reached a steady state," they write. "This time of measurement should be adopted as the standard for trauma databases and outcome studies."

Hakkanen H, Summala H. Sleepiness at work among commercial truck drivers. Sleep 2000; 23:49-57.

This Finnish study addresses sleepiness among commercial truck drivers, both long-haul and short-haul drivers. The researchers surveyed 184 long-haul drivers and 133 short-haul drivers to examine the frequency of driver sleepiness-related problems at work during the previous three months and to assess the incidence of sleep apnea. The study also tried to identify factors likely to predict problems with staying alert at work, dozing off at the wheel, and near misses.

The results suggest that 13% of the long-haul drivers exceed European regulations limiting the mean driving time per shift. About 40% of the long-haul drivers and 21% of the short-haul drivers reported having problems in staying alert on at least 20% of their drives. More than 20% of the long-haul drivers reported having dozed off at least twice while driving. Seventeen percent of those drivers had experienced near misses while dozing off.

Factors indicating sleep apnea syndrome occurred in only about 4% of the long-haul drivers and in only two of the short-haul drivers. The researchers say "this suggests that driver sleepiness-related problems tend to be shared by many of the professional drivers, rather than being a specific’ and permanent problem for a smaller portion of drivers. However, difficulties in sleep patterns, such as having difficulty falling asleep, were infrequent."