Oregon OSHA

Construction Depotonline

Fall 2007
Safety & Health News for the Oregon Construction Industry

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Injuries and illnesses: Plumbers and pipefitters

By Tasha Hodges.

The faucet in your bathroom sink has been dripping incessantly, keeping you up all night. Yesterday, your son decided to see if his sister’s Barbie could swim, effectively clogging the toilet. Your showerhead has been oozing green slime for over a week, and your garbage disposal… well, let’s just say it’s not a pretty sight. It’s time to call in the plumbing experts.

Unfortunately, pipes aren’t the only things that occasionally need repair. From 2001-2005 the Department of Consumer and Business Services received notification of 695 accepted disabling claims filed by plumbers and pipefitters, an average of 139 claims per year. Sprains and strains to the back (139 claims), lower extremities (73 claims), shoulder (34 claims) and multiple body parts (28 claims) were the most common disabling injuries.

Over the past five years plumbers have also suffered a surprising number of knee injuries. Other than back injuries, the knee was the most commonly injured body part, the subject of 101 accepted disabling claims (14.5 percent of claims from 2001 to 2005). Plumbers’ knees were most often strained (39 claims) or dislocated (27 claims).

Overexertion was the most common cause of disabling injury, resulting in 171 claims (24.6 percent), which is typical for most Oregon employees. Falls were the second most common cause of injury (133 claims), the majority of which were either falls to the floor (36 claims) or falls from a ladder (34 claims). Falls were most likely to result in a sprain or strain (50 claims) or a fracture (27 claims).

Tasha Hodges is a Research Analyst in the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Information Management Division.
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