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Release: Immediate

UI researchers surveying Iowa construction workers' injuries

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Occupational injury researchers at the University of Iowa College of Medicine are beginning a study of injuries among construction workers who are treated in emergency rooms at three Eastern Iowa hospitals.

The four-year study, conducted by occupational safety experts at the UI Injury Prevention Research Center (IPRC), will attempt to identify injury patterns among specific trades in the construction industry.

Injured construction workers who receive emergency treatment at the UI Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, and Mercy Medical Center and St. Luke's Hospital in Cedar Rapids, will be invited to take part in the study. In the weeks following their emergency treatments, construction workers who agree to participate will be interviewed over the telephone. Researchers will gather information about each worker's injury, treatment, occupation, work history and treatment outcome.

Each participant then will be contacted one year later to assess any long-term effects of their injuries, employer accommodations regarding their injuries, and the worker's current job status. UI researchers hope to enroll 1,200 men and women for the study during the next three years.

Hospital personnel assisting with the study are: Jeffry Gauthier, administrative assistant in emergency medicine in the UIHC emergency department; Karen Harmon, trauma center nurse at Mercy Medical Center; and Laura Sagers, emergency room manager at St. Luke's Hospital.

Information collected during the study will be compared to similar data gathered from construction workers seen at the George Washington University Hospital Emergency Department in Washington, D.C.

"The differences between urban and rural settings will provide an opportunity to study risk factors specific to each region and to suggest possible strategies for reducing the number and severity of injuries incurred by workers in this high-risk occupation," says Dr. Craig Zwerling, UI associate professor of preventive medicine and environmental health and director of the IPRC.

The study is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Center to Protect Workers' Rights.