The dangers of being a "weekend warrior": A new call for injury prevention efforts
Department of Surgery
Medical Subject Headings
Wounds and Injuries; Accidents, Home; Accident Prevention
Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Surgery
BACKGROUND: Nonprofessionals routinely perform high-risk home maintenance activities otherwise regulated by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration when professionals perform the same work. Reducing the risks taken by these "weekend warriors" has not been the focus of injury prevention efforts. This study describes injury patterns and outcomes for nonprofessionals attempting home roof and tree maintenance.
METHODS: We queried our trauma registry for all adult patients (age, >/=18 years) with injury codes for "fall-from-height" or "struck-by-tree" (2005-present) and reviewed charts to determine injuries sustained during home roof or tree work. Patients injured during occupational duties (indicated by Workman's Compensation) were excluded. Descriptive statistics were used to determine patient demographics, injury patterns, and outcomes.
RESULTS: A total of 129 patients were injured performing roof and tree maintenance during the study period. Of these patients, 90 (69.8%) were fall from height and 39 (30.2%) were struck by tree. Mean (SD) age was 45 (14) years. The majority were male (124, 96.1%) and white (116, 89.9%). Nearly half (59, 45.7%) were privately insured; a quarter (32, 24.8%) had no insurance. Mean (SD) Injury Severity Score was 12.7 (9.3). Injury distributions were as follows: head injury, 48.8%; facial fractures, 10.1%; cervical spine fractures, 3.9%; thoracic, lumbar, and sacral spine fractures, 28.1%; rib fractures, 27.3%; intrathoracic injuries, 22.5%; liver/spleen injuries, 6.2%; pelvic fractures, 15.6%; upper-extremity fractures, 27.3%; and lower-extremity fractures, 14.7%. Of the patients, 19 (14.7%) had one or more regions with Abbreviated Injury Scale score of higher than 3. Mean (SD) length of stay was 5.3 (7.6) days. Except for 2 deaths (1.6%), discharge dispositions were as follows: home, 64.2%; home with services, 10.1%; rehabilitation, 17.8%; and skilled nursing, 5.4%.
CONCLUSION: Weekend warriors performing home roof and tree maintenance sustain serious injuries with a potential for a long-term disability at young ages. Injury prevention efforts should educate the public about the hazards of high-risk home maintenance, possibly encouraging Occupational Health and Safety Administration-regulated protective measures or deferral to trained professionals.
LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Epidemiologic study, level III.