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Am J Ind Med. 1997 Feb;31(2):176-87.

Proportionate mortality among unionized construction ironworkers.

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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, OH 45226, USA.


This report presents the results of proportionate mortality ratios (PMR) and proportionate cancer mortality ratios (PCMR) among 13,301 members of the International Union of Bridge, Structural, and Ornamental Ironworkers who had been members for a minimum of 1 year, were actively paying dues into the death beneficiary fund, and had died between 1984-1991. Using the United States proportionate mortality rates as the comparison population, statistically significant elevated risks, using 95% confidence intervals (CI), were observed for several types of injuries: falls (N = 259, PMR = 3.57, CI = 3.15-4.03), transportation injuries (N = 363, PMR = 1.22, CI = 1.10-1.35), and other types of injuries (N = 225, PMR = 1.63, CI = 1.43-1.86). The deaths due to falls were significantly elevated for each 10-year age group under age 60 (PMR > 7.00) and for those workers with < 20 years in the union (PMR > 6.00). Elevated mortality risks were also observed for all malignant neoplasms combined (N = 3,682, PMR = 1.09, CI = 1.06-1.13) as well as for site-specific malignant neoplasms of the lung (N = 1,523, PMR = 1.28, CI = 1.21-1.35), pleural mesothelioma (N = 7, PMR = 1.67, CI = 0.67-3.44) and "other and unspecified sites" (N = 307, PMR = 1.29, CI = 1.15-1.44). The category "pneumoconiosis and other respiratory diseases" was also significantly elevated (N = 690, PMR = 1.11, CI = 1.03-1.20); in this category, deaths due to asbestosis had the greatest elevated risk (N = 10, PMR = 3.56, CI = 1.70-6.54). No elevation in risk was found for kidney cancer or for chronic nephritis which were of interest because of Ironworkers' potential exposure to lead. The present study underscores the importance of fall protection and other injury prevention efforts in the construction industry, as well as the need to control airborne exposures to asbestos, welding fumes and other respirable disease hazards.

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