Construction Workers and Brain Injuries 101
Dangerous heights, heavy building materials, and large machinery all put construction workers at risk for serious injuries—especially traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the construction industry has more fatal and nonfatal TBIs than any other sector, and a full quarter of construction-related fatalities are the result of TBIs.
But who in the industry is most at risk, and what can construction companies do to help prevent these devastating injuries?
What is a TBI?
A TBI usually occurs after a blow to the head, like when a worker falls from a rooftop or is struck by falling building materials. This is considered a closed brain injury: There’s no break in the skull, but the brain’s sudden forward or backward movement inside of the skull causes bruising and tearing. A penetrating brain injury, on the other hand, occurs when an object enters the skull.
TBIs can cause a range of problems, including emotional changes, intellectual problems and communication issues. The most severe TBIs can result in death or permanent altered consciousness.
What are the symptoms of a TBI?
Any head injury is serious and requires immediate emergency care. However, the symptoms of a mild TBI may look different from a more serious brain injury. Here’s what to look for after a mild TBI, according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Speech problems
- Changes to vision, hearing, taste, smell or sensitivity to light
- Loss of consciousness or state of confusion
- Memory issues
- Depression or anxiety
- Changes in sleep habits
Severe TBIs typically result in impossible-to-ignore symptoms, including the prolonged loss of consciousness, severe headaches, persistent nausea, slurred speech and seizures. After any TBI, prompt medical care is crucial for producing the best treatment outcome.
How do you help a person with a TBI?
After calling 911 and ensuring the individual receives immediate medical care, it’s important to also share any details about the accident with care providers. The injured person may not be in a position to speak about an accident, but it can help medical providers to know how the person was hurt, whether he or she lost consciousness and how long the person was unconscious.
Who is most at risk for TBIs?
According to a report in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine (as shared by the CDC), some construction workers are more at risk than others for fatal TBIs.
- Workers who are foreign born are more at risk than workers born in the U.S.
- Male workers are seven times as likely to die than female workers.
- Employees of a small firm (under 20 employees) are more than twice as likely to die than those who work for a company with more than 100 employees.
- Workers older than 65 are nearly four times as likely to die than their younger counterparts.
How can you avoid a TBI?
With many construction-related TBIs occurring because of falls, any safe workplace should prioritize fall prevention. Prevention starts with planning—even during the bidding process, necessary fall-prevention equipment needs to be factored in. Workers need the proper ladders, scaffolds and gear (including a personal fall arrest system) to perform their jobs, especially if the work is taking place more than 6 feet off the ground.
Georgia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
If you have suffered from a TBI, you need an Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney. We understand how complex these injuries can be. Contact the Law Offices of Laura Lanzisera today for a free consultation, or give us a call at 404-991-5097.
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