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Individual characteristics in occupational accidents due to imbalance: a case-control study of the employees of a railway company


Background: Falls are frequent occupational accidents, and are responsible for a significant amount of lost working time and, more importantly, for a high mortality. The factors involved in falling mechanisms can be of external or individual origin, the latter being less well identified.

Aims: To assess the relations between certain individual characteristics and occupational accidents due to imbalance.

Methods: A total of 427 male employees, who had been victims of at least one occupational accident with sick leave due to imbalance (cases) and 427 controls were recruited among the employees of a large French railway company. A standardised questionnaire on life conditions and professional factors, and a description of the accidents was filled in by an occupational physician for each subject.

Results: Some job categories were more affected by a specific release mechanism of work related falls. Certain individual characteristics such as smoking, alcohol consumption, inactivity, sleep disorders, and request for a job change were correlated with the occurrence of occupational accidents. Sick leaves of eight days or over were more frequent in older and overweight injured workers. Some lesions were linked with the specific fall released mechanisms.

Conclusions: Individual characteristics can increase the risk of occupational accidents, especially falling. This study identified subjects most at risk on whom prevention related to working conditions and falls could be focused.

  • occupational accidents
  • falls
  • individual characteristics
  • postural control

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