Can Big Data Answer Big Questions about Worker Safety and Health?
Big Data. You hear the term all the time now, sometimes in alarming contexts. There's no question that modern computing power and electronic records have made data analyses possible for us that previous generations couldn't have imagined.
A CPWR-supported team at the University of Illinois at Chicago is a case in point. A decade ago it would have been impossible -- or at least prohibitively expensive -- to link the hospital admissions information in the Illinois Trauma Registry to corresponding records the Hospital Discharge Database and to the Illinois Workers Compensation Claims Database. Today we can, and the linkage enabled the research team to investigate some important questions about construction worker injuries and compensation.
In findings that should be of great interest to policymakers, insurers and construction firms, the team found that data from the first two databases recording the severity of injury and length of hospital stay could enable useful predictions about the size of workers' compensation awards. Read about it in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine (Characterizing the relationship between in-hospital measures and workers' compensation outcomes among severely injured construction workers using a data linkage strategy) or check out the Key Findings summary on our website.
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The linkage also shined a light on a disturbing statistical phenomenon. The average (mean) workers' compensation award to Black and Latino construction workers suffering a workplace injury was 20% below that of a similarly placed White construction worker with equally severe injuries. Additional research will be required to explain the cause of this disparity. The results have been published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (Analysis of Ethnic Disparities in Workers' Compensation Claims Using Data Linkage) and a Key Findings summary is available at cpwr.com.
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CPWR -- The Center for Construction Research and Training is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created by the Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO. Working with partners like you in business, labor, government, and the universities, we strive every day to make work safer for the 9 million men and women who work in the U.S. construction industry!