• Article

Contractor-, steward-, and coworker-safety practice


Kim, S-S., Dutra, L. M., & Okechukwu, C. A. (2014). Contractor-, steward-, and coworker-safety practice: associations with musculoskeletal pain and injury-related absence among construction apprentices. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, 87(5), 493-500. DOI: 10.1007/s00420-013-0889-2


This paper sought to assess organizational safety practices at three different levels of hierarchical workplace structure and to examine their association with injury outcomes among construction apprentices.

Using a cross-sectional sample of 1,775 construction apprentices, three measures of organizational safety practice were assessed: contractor-, steward-, and coworker-safety practice. Each safety practice measure was assessed using three similar questions (i.e., on-the-job safety commitment, following required or recommended safe work practices, and correcting unsafe work practices); the summed average of the responses ranged from 1 to 4, with a higher score indicating poorer safety practice. Outcome variables included the prevalence of four types of musculoskeletal pain (i.e., neck, shoulder, hand, and back pain) and injury-related absence.

In adjusted analyses, contractor-safety practice was associated with both hand pain (OR: 1.27, 95 % CI: 1.04, 1.54) and back pain (OR: 1.40, 95 % CI: 1.17, 1.68); coworker-safety practice was related to back pain (OR: 1.42, 95 % CI: 1.18, 1.71) and injury-related absence (OR: 1.36, 95 % CI: 1.11, 1.67). In an analysis that included all three safety practice measures simultaneously, the association between coworker-safety practice and injury-related absence remained significant (OR: 1.68, 95 % CI: 1.20, 2.37), whereas all other associations became non-significant.

This study suggests that organizational safety practice, particularly coworker-safety practice, is associated with injury outcomes among construction apprentices.