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Welding related occupational eye injuries: a narrative analysis
  1. D A Lombardi1,2,
  2. R Pannala2,
  3. G S Sorock3,
  4. H Wellman1,
  5. T K Courtney1,
  6. S Verma1,
  7. G S Smith1
  1. 1Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, Hopkinton, MA, USA
  2. 2Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, Amherst, MA, USA
  3. 3Center for Injury Research and Policy, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr D A Lombardi
 Quantitative Analysis Unit, Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, 71 Frankland Road, Hopkinton, MA 01748, USA;


Objective: To determine the activities and circumstances proximal to a welding related occupational eye injury, a hybrid narrative coding approach derived from two well developed classification systems was developed to categorize and describe the activity, initiating process, mechanism of injury, object and/or substance, and the use of protective eyewear from the narrative text data reported for each injury.

Methods: Routinely collected workers’ compensation claims over a one year period (2000) were analyzed from a large US insurance provider. An index term search algorithm of occupation, incident, and injury description fields identified 2209 potential welding related eye injury claims. After detailed review of these claims, 1353 welders and 822 non-welders were analyzed.

Results: During 2000, eye(s) as the primary injured body part accounted for 5% (n = 26 413) of all compensation claims. Eye injuries accounted for 25% of all claims for welders. Subjects were mainly male (97.1%) and from manufacturing (70.4%), service (11.8%), or construction (8.4%) related industries. Most injuries were foreign body (71.7%) or burn (22.2%) and 17.6% were bilateral. Common activities include welding (31.9%) and/or grinding (22.5%). Being struck by an airborne object occurred in 56.3% of cases. Non-welders showed similar patterns except that burns (43.8%) were more frequent and more often initiated by another worker (13.9%).

Conclusions: Narrative injury text provides valuable data to supplement traditional epidemiologic analyses. Workers performing welding tasks or working nearby welders should be trained to recognize potential hazards and the effective use of proper safety equipment to prevent ocular injury.

  • PPE, personal protective equipment
  • eye
  • occupational
  • welding
  • narrative analysis

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