No evidence that regulations on construction sites reduce fatal and nonfatal accidents

October 16, 2007

Construction workers are frequently exposed to injury-inducing hazards, and various interventions have been proposed to make the work safer.

A team of Cochrane Researchers gathered by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, however, looked for trials that could indicate whether any recommendations had been effective. They found only five studies that met their inclusion criteria, and even those were not of particularly high quality. Three of these evaluated the effect of specific regulations, one looked at a safety campaign and the fifth was a drug-free workplace program.

From the data they did find, they concluded that the regulatory interventions did not show either an initial or a sustained effect on reducing fatal or non-fatal injuries. In contrast, the safety campaign and the drug-free workplace program both had initial and sustained effects.

"The vast majority of technical and human factors and organisational interventions which are recommended by standard texts of safety, consultants and safety courses, have not been adequately evaluated," says lead researcher Dr Henk van der Molen, from Arbouw and the Coronel Institute of Occupational Health in The Netherlands, who was financed by an Australian government agency.

The researchers say that there is a clear need for interrupted time series studies conducted over several years as a means of evaluating the effectiveness of safety interventions.

"The construction industry needs to take a serious look at the ways that it attempts to keep its workforce safe and check that the interventions they call for have a proven track record of success," says Dr van der Molen.


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