How brain injuries happen in the workplace

It doesn't take a severe knock to the head to cause a brain injury. Even mild concussions, especially when repeated over time, can develop into a serious problem.

In recent years, there's been a lot of attention to the effects of brain injuries on boxers and football players -- especially in light of the confirmed cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) among athletes who have suffered from early-onset dementia and death. But, boxers and football players aren't the only people at risk of serious brain injuries on the job. Many people in other professions, like construction workers, police officers, firefighters, hospital workers, miners and heavy-equipment drivers also end up suffering significant brain injuries on the job.

Since prevention is a significant part of the battle against permanent injury or death due to brain trauma, it's important to understand as much as possible about the dangers you face in the workplace. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) on the job often occur due to the following circumstances:

  • Vehicle crashes -- If you drive heavy vehicles, commercial trucks, forklifts or something similar, an accident can easily leave you with a TBI. You stand an even greater risk of a TBI if your vehicle overturns while you're in it.
  • Explosions -- These are a very real possibility for people working in plumbing trenches, in mines and during excavations for construction.
  • Falling objects -- Being hit from above by a falling object is a particular concern for construction workers and firefighters. All it takes is one slip of a tool from someone's hand to create a lifelong disability.
  • Slips, trips and falls -- Most people don't realize that they can suffer a serious TBI just from falling to the floor. Almost anyone could be at risk of this kind of accident at work due to poor lighting, objects left in the path, torn carpet or a slick surface.

In many cases, TBIs could be prevented if employers enforced safety procedures and insisted on personal protective gear for each employee. Unfortunately, they often don't. If you've suffered a brain injury at work, do yourself and your family a favor: Seek legal advice about your situation.

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