What’s a traumatic brain injury or TBI? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines it as an injury that disrupts how the brain works. TBIs can occur when the head receives a bump, jolt, blow, or is penetrated by an object (like a nail from a nail gun, a bullet, or a knife). The most common cause of a TBI is a fall. Injuries to the brain can also occur in car accidents, explosions, playing sports, assault, or being hit by an object. Concussions are considered as a milder form of a TBI. The CDC’s injury center is working hard to promote TBI awareness and finding ways to prevent them.
In the construction industry, a TBI can occur when an employee experiences a fall—from a ladder, scaffold, equipment, poor housekeeping (trips), or falling from any unprotected side or edge. Other situations than can also cause TBI include being struck by or caught in between equipment or materials. Employees need training to prevent injuries to the brain. If there is a hazard that could strike the employees in this region, safety equipment that protects the head are also necessary.
In America, 5.3 million citizens live with a TBI-related disability—and the cost of medical care, rehabilitation, and loss of productivity is 76.5 million. According to a study, unemployment levels rose from 14% pre-injury to 71% post-injury. Males have the highest rate of brain injuries. Fall-related brain injuries are higher for children and older adults. Adolescents and young adults have the highest rates of motor vehicle-related brain injuries. Adults aged 75 or older have the highest rate of brain injury-related hospitalization and are more likely to die from a TBI. Three TBIs occur every minute.
Prevention saves lives. You can do a lot to prevent TBIs! Be informed and use everyday safety devices to prevent this injury. Know the hazards in your environment that could cause the injury, then remove or reduce the hazard. At work, wear your hard hat if there are overhead hazards. Use the toe board on guardrail systems and scaffolds to prevent tools from being kicked over the edge. Remove fall hazards and practice good housekeeping to prevent slips, trips, and falls. When using ladders, provide proper training and make sure that employees use the ladders correctly. Employees need proper training for fall protection equipment (PFAS) and scaffold.
Outside work, there are other ways to protect yourself and your loved ones. Ensure that you and your passengers wear seatbelts. Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or fatigue. Wear helmets when riding bikes or other sport related activities. Make sure that your personal living areas are safe—remove tripping hazards, use non-slip mats in the bathtub, install handrails on stairways, improve lighting, and maintain good health habits. Get on the floor and look around from a child’s a perspective. What are the fall hazards you see?
For more information regarding TBIs, visit the CDC site and learn how you can keep yourself and your loved ones safe on and off the job.