Brain Injury: A Risk Americans Face Daily at Work And on The Road

Traumatic brain injury is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. An estimated that 2.8 million people are being treated for TBI annually. Falls, being struck by an object, traffic accidents, and assault are among the leading causes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

What Is Traumatic Brain Injury?

TBI is the sudden damage to the brain due to a sharp blow or jolt to the head, either from blunt or penetrating trauma. Primary injury would occur at the moment of impact, which could affect only a particular lobe of the brain or the whole brain itself. In severe cases, the skull can also be fractured. When the head is hit bluntly or pierced by an object, the brain would rattle inside the skull, causing bruising, bleeding, and even tearing of nerve fibers. Disorientation, blurry vision, and/or loss of consciousness commonly happen right after the injury.

The secondary injury occurs after the person overcomes the primary injury. This is when the brain may swell, causing it to push against the skull and restrict oxygen flow. 

What the Statistics Reveal

Out of the 2.8 million people estimated to sustain TBI, 50,000 of them have died, 282,000 were hospitalized, and 2.5 million were treated and discharged from emergency care facilities.

The CDC also recorded 1,320,411 cases of brain injury from falls, 430,836 from struck-by/against incidents, 383,293 from road accidents, and 255,112 caused by assaults and self-harm. Most cases, however, are mild ones, more known as concussions. Still, the number of people dying from TBI every day is alarming. 

Treatment for mild TBI may consist of only rest and medication, but severe cases may demand intensive care and surgery. In some scenarios, the patient may acquire the assistance of a brain injury lawyer if they sustained the injury through accident due to other people’s negligence.

Managing the Hazards

Seeing that falls account for the largest number of TBI-related injuries, many people assume that the most vulnerable to this accident are those who work on elevated heights, but in reality, any work setting can pose a fall hazard. These include slippery, uneven, and wet floors.

To prevent falls, the floors must always be free of any obstruction and substances like debris, spills, and leaks. Stairs, entryways, and loading docks must also be clear at all times. Working tools and materials should not be placed in walkways, aisles, and staircases.

Trash should be put in containers and not left on the floor. Power cables and cords should also be positioned away from walkways. In outdoor workplaces, materials like air hoses should never obstruct the workers' paths.

Brain injury

All walkways should be adequately lit, and if the floor is wet from cleaning, signage should be displayed to make people aware. To minimize the risk of slipping, using slip-resistant floor treatments will help.

If damages are seen on the walkways, it should be reported immediately so that repairs can be performed at once.

Inspecting workplaces regularly will also help in identifying other fall hazards. The design of the walkways should be assessed if it's capable of accommodating heavy foot traffic. Overall, the entire workplace should be deemed free of fall hazards and other accident risks that will cause TBI.

People are also advised to watch their step always. Even if the walkways are safe, people may still end up falling because of paying more attention to other things, like their smartphones, while walking. It’s recommended to stop in a safe area when they need to use their phones.

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