Traumatic brain injuries in the construction industry
California construction workers are at substantial risk for receiving a traumatic brain injury while at work. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the highest number of workplace TBIs
, both fatal and nonfatal, occur in the construction industry. Between 2003-2010, over 2,200 construction workers died from TBIs, representing more than 25 percent of all construction fatalities.
The Mayo Clinic defines a traumatic brain injury
as a head injury that causes brain dysfunction. While all head injuries are potentially serious, even when they appear to be minor, TBIs and their symptoms are classified as follows:
- Mild TBI – may cause temporary loss of consciousness, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, loss of balance, blurred vision
- Moderate TBI – may cause convulsions, seizures, loss of coordination
- Severe TBI – may cause profound confusion, slurred speech, coma, even death
Workers most at risk
Although all construction workers are at risk for receiving a TBI due to their often hazardous working environments, the CDC reports that some workers are at higher risk than others, including the following:
- Workers who are age 65 and older are about four times more likely to suffer a fatal TBI than workers who are 25-34.
- Workers who were born in another country are at significantly higher risk for a fatal TBI than native-born Americans.
- Workers who are employed by small construction companies, those with fewer than 20 employees, are over 2.5 times more likely to suffer a fatal TBI than workers employed by a company with over 100 employees.
Falls are the most common cause of TBIs, although being struck by a moving vehicle and/or by falling debris also regularly results in TBIs. Any California construction worker who receives any type of head injury should receive immediate emergency treatment and be transported to a hospital. Doctors need to run tests in order to arrive at a correct diagnosis of the severity of the injury. The sooner appropriate treatment begins, the more likelihood that ill effects can be minimized.