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Traumatic brain injuries in the construction industry

A blow to the head can result in a brain injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the highest number of jobsite fatal and nonfatal traumatic brain injuries occur in the construction industry. More than 2,200 construction workers died as a result of a TBI between 2003 and 2010, representing 25 percent of all construction fatalities.

Construction workers are at increased risk of receiving a brain injury because of the hazardous work in which they often are engaged. Additional sobering statistics in the CDC report include the following:

  • Falls were the cause of over half of the fatal TBIs.
  • Workers employed by small construction companies having fewer than 20 employees were about 2.5 times more likely to die from a TBI than workers employed by companies having more than 100 employees.
  • Foreign-born construction workers had a significantly higher TBI fatality rate than workers born in the United States.
  • Older workers, those aged 65 and above, were four times more likely to suffer a fatal TBI than workers aged 25-34.

The Mayo Clinic likewise says that falls are the most common cause of TBI, followed by vehicle collisions, violence, sports injuries, and combat injuries such as explosive blasts. In addition, penetrating wounds and/or severe blows to the head from debris and other sharp objects can cause TBIs.

Nonfatal TBIs can result in a number of physical and psychological conditions, some of which may be temporary, but others of which can last a lifetime and become progressively worse. It is critical that a construction worker who receives a head injury, even if it seems to be minor, receive immediate medical attention. A doctor can assess the injury, determine its severity, and start any needed treatment right away.

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