March is Brain Injury Awareness Month in the US. As many as 137 Americans die every day because of traumatic brain injuries (TBI), and many more suffer lifelong disability.
Accidents at the workplace are a leading cause of brain injury. Falls from heights and struck-by object accidents together comprise more than half of all TBI-related injuries, according to the Brain Injury Awareness Association (BIAA).
Common Causes of Brain Injuries at the Workplace
Construction Site Accidents
Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) suggest that preventable falls from heights at construction sites result in a large number of occupational traumatic brain injuries.
Apart from falling from heights, construction workers are exposed to additional brain injury risks, such as getting struck on the head by heavy construction equipment, falling objects or metal beams, or getting hit by a moving construction vehicle.
Slip and Fall in Factories, Warehouses and Stores
Traumatic brain injuries can occur in a slip and fall accident on any type of jobsite. Poorly lit spaces, broken floor or stairways, liquid spills, and unexpected obstructions in factories, warehouses, and department stores can cause workers to fall and hit their head against the floor, causing TBI.
Even in a seemingly safe office setting, if the carpeting is torn, or the pavement outside is cracked or has ice, an employee can trip and sustain a serious head injury.
Workers in Other High-Risk Industries
Drivers operating buses, trucks, delivery vehicles, and other heavy vehicles can suffer from traumatic brain injuries while on the job. Firefighters and oil and gas extraction industry are other examples where the employees are at a higher risk of brain injuries.
Employers have a responsibility to recognize the potential TBI hazards for workers and put in place adequate safety practices and policies to protect the workforce.
Need to Recognize and Report Brain Injury
In many cases, a worker may suffer a job-related head injury, but no immediate symptoms may appear. Brain injury is internal, and may not be detected without a CT scan or MRI test. The victim may only realize it many days, weeks or months later when symptoms such as dizziness, blurred vision, memory loss or mental confusion begin to show up.
The delay in medical treatment could cause the condition to worsen. At the same time, the worker may find it much more difficult to make a successful claim for workers’ compensation and establish that the injury occurred during the course of their job.
It is important to be aware of the early signs of brain injury, and most importantly, the injured worker should not ignore any incident where their head is struck against an object, hard surface, or floor. Even if they are feeling fine, and there is no external tissue damage, it is vital to report the incident to their supervisor and visit the emergency room for a medical review.
Talk to an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney
If you or someone you love has suffered a job-related traumatic brain injury, you should immediately consult with a seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer in Pennsylvania. A dedicated lawyer will provide you the right legal advice and fight on your behalf to ensure your rights are fully protected.