Traumatic Brain Injuries and the Construction Industry

Each year 1.7 million people sustain a head or traumatic brain injury.  Of that number an estimated 52,000 will die.  Traumatic brain injuries usually occur following a violent blow or jolt to the head or body.  These injuries also can be caused by an object penetrating the skull.  Traumatic brain injuries can range from severe to mild.  Mild cases may cause temporary confusion while the most severe types cause serious damage to the brain leading to long-term disability or even death.

While traumatic brain injuries are not the type of injury usually associated with the workplace, they are more common than most people might believe.  The occupations at the highest risk of such injuries are construction, transportation, agriculture, forestry, and fishing.  Combined, these industries account for almost half of all deaths from traumatic brain injuries.

The occurrence of head injuries on the job drives home the importance of proper safety gear – especially head protection.  Protective helmets or hard hats must be able to sustain blows and absorb impact, withstand penetration, and protect against electric shock.

Of course even the most effective hard hats and head protection won’t save lives and prevent injuries if they are not worn – or worn improperly.  Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that only 16 percent of workers who have sustained head injuries were wearing hard hats.  Even more disturbing is that in almost half of these cases those workers were in areas that required head protection.

The safety of workers needs to be the number one priority of employers – especially in dangerous industries such as construction.  The following are some steps to make sure your workers are as safe as possible on the job:

  1. Implement a proper safety training program.
  2. Ensure that all personal protective equipment meets the latest safety standards and that such equipment is checked and serviced on a regular basis.
  3. Employ a zero tolerance policy for any employee not complying with safety standards or protective equipment requirements.

Finally, it may be in the best interest of your employees and your company to hire a safety services company to come in and audit your safety procedures and inspect your safety equipment.  A consulting services company also can provide you with advice on what type of equipment to purchase and how to effectively train employees on the importance of the correct use of such personal protection equipment.

No workplace can be 100 percent safe 100 percent of the time.  However, this should still remain your ultimate goal as a business owner.

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