Workplace injuries are common among American employees, and construction workers face some of the most significant risks in the workforce. Of the 4,379 total private industry workers killed on the job in 2015, about 20 percent of them were in construction, and nearly 80,000 more construction workers suffered a non-fatal injury. In Ohio, construction workers were injured at a higher rate than most other occupations in the state.
Employees in the construction trade suffered many injuries, but one leading problem is the frequent occurrence of traumatic brain injury (TBI). In a study published last year, researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reported that the construction industry has the highest rate of TBIs of any industry. From 2003 to 2010, over 2,200 workers suffered fatal brain injuries, a figure which represents about a quarter of all construction-related deaths and a quarter of all TBI-related occupational deaths. Traumatic brain injuries can cause serious, long-lasting symptoms which can be difficult to address, and the risks to those in the construction industry are significant.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury is a change in brain function due to an external force. It is typically the result of a violent blow to the head, either from the head striking an object or from an object penetrating the skull. The force of the blow can cause tissue in the brain to be bruised, stretched, or torn, which often causes swelling, bleeding, and more. The symptoms of a TBI can encompass a wide range of issues depending on the severity of the injury, ranging from a mild headache to loss of consciousness. The most common symptoms include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Memory problems
- Vision problems
- Trouble concentrating
- Weakness in limbs
Traumatic brain injuries are especially difficult to treat because of the wide variety of symptoms and complications that can present. These injuries affect every person differently, both physically and emotionally. Some people report significant mood and personality changes, while others experience strong physical changes. A recent documentary entitled Overcoming explores the consequences of a TBI, noting the lack of real understanding.
Why Does Construction Work Pose Such High Risk for a TBI?
Unfortunately, those in the construction industry are at a higher risk for experiencing a TBI than those in other trades. Construction sites are inherently more dangerous than other places of employment. There is typically heavy machinery, constant motion, and high work surfaces. This situation lends itself more easily to some of the most common causes of TBI, which include:
- Falls. Falls were responsible for more than 50 percent of all fatal occupational TBIs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The group named falls from ladders, roofs, and scaffolds as particular problems, which are prevalent at construction sites.
- Vehicle accidents. Travel to and from construction sites poses a risk to employees, as does vehicle traffic on the site itself. A loud and busy job site can make it difficult for both drivers and pedestrians to spot dangers.
- Object strike. Construction materials are constantly being transported around a job site. Often, beams and other building supplies must be moved, putting workers at risk of being struck.
Preventing Traumatic Brain Injury in the Construction Industry
There are steps those who work in the construction industry can take to help keep themselves and those who share their job site safe from traumatic brain injury. These simple steps can offer protection when followed properly, and they include:
- Wear a hard hat. And wear it properly. A hard hat cannot offer protection if it is not worn at all times, or if the hat is damaged or of poor quality.
- Follow fall protection protocol. Guard holes in the ground or work platforms. Take advantage of guardrails, and use safety harnesses or lines when necessary. Falls are the most common cause of work-related TBIs, and special care should be taken.
- Know your surroundings. A simple amount of caution can prevent many serious accidents and TBIs. When a worker knows of the dangers nearby, he can address them and take safe action.
If You Have Suffered a TBI at Your Ohio Construction Job
Unfortunately, even when precautions are taken and construction workers do their best to stay safe, accidents can still happen. Helmets are not infallible, and the human element will always exist. If you or someone you love has suffered a TBI on a construction job, you may have benefits available to you. The Ohio workers’ compensation system offers many different types of benefits to employees who have suffered a job-related TBI. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help injured workers understand their rights and pursue the maximum compensation they deserve.
If you or someone you love has suffered a traumatic brain injury on the job, you will need qualified and ongoing medical care. Call the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Monast Law to learn more about the options available to you. Our dedicated legal team understands the challenges you may face and will work hard to ensure that you can obtain all the compensation to which you are entitled.