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Why construction workers are at high risk for TBIs

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Construction workers in California run a substantial risk of receiving a traumatic brain injury while at work. This is because they often are required to perform their jobs while on roofs, scaffolding, tall ladders, etc., and they are at risk of falling from such high places. The Mayo Clinic states that falls are the most common cause of TBIs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, TBIs occur more frequently in the construction industry than in all other industries combined. Over 25 percent of all fatal TBI accidents were to construction workers between 2003-2010, and over 2,200 workers died from their traumatic brain injuries.

Highest risks

All construction workers are at risk for receiving a fatal TBI, but those most at risk are the following:

  • Foreign-born workers are at significantly higher risk than workers born in the United States.
  • The risk for workers who work for small construction companies with fewer than 20 employees is 2.5 times that of workers who work for companies with over 100 employees
  • Older workers, those age 65 and above, have an approximately four times higher risk of dying from a TBI than workers who between the ages of 25-34.

TBI causes

A traumatic brain injury is a head injury that can cause the brain to malfunction in multiple ways. As stated, falls are the most common cause of TBIs, but any blow to the head, such as from being hit by a moving vehicle or by falling debris, can cause a TBI. So can any penetrating wound to the skull. Even the pressure wave from a nearby explosion can significantly disrupt brain function.

Any jolt to the head can cause multiple points of brain damage since the brain may move back and forth inside the skull. For instance, brain cells immediately below the point of impact can be damaged. If the injury causes the worker’s head to rotate, cellular structures can be damaged. If the injuries result in bleeding in or around the brain, the result can be blood clots and/or swelling that can disrupt oxygen flow to the brain. A penetrating injury can cause irreparable damage not only to brain cells, but also to the blood vessels and protective tissues around the brain.

A construction worker who sustains any type of head injury, regardless of its perceived severity, needs to receive immediate emergency treatment by first responders and be transported to the nearest emergency room. The sooner a doctor can arrive at a diagnosis and begin appropriate treatment, the less likely it will be that the TBI will result in catastrophic consequences, up to and including death.

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