Concussions: It’s Not Just Football Players Who Are at Risk

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By Randy Palladino
The frequency and consequences of concussions among players in the National Football League is getting a lot of press these days, but construction workers are also at risk for suffering this type of injury on the job. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the construction industry has the highest number of fatal head injuries in U.S. workplaces. Between 2003 and 2010, more than 2,200 construction workers died from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a sudden and direct bump, blow or jolt to the head or body that causes the brain to bounce and twist inside the skull. This violent movement can cause bruising, damage blood vessels and nerves and create chemical changes.

Concussions, which can occur even if the head never smacks the ground, can range from leaving a worker feeling slightly dazed or experiencing a very brief loss of consciousness to a prolonged loss of consciousness and longer recovery times. Severe TBIs can be life-threatening.

Repeated concussions, even when mild, can also lead to serious health problems. These include post-concussion syndrome, in which the effects of a concussion, including headaches and dizziness, last for weeks and sometimes even months after the initial injury.

Symptoms of a concussion include:

·        Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes

·        Feeling dazed or disoriented

·        Headache

·        Nausea or vomiting

·        Dizziness

·        Blurred vision, ringing in the ears, bad taste in mouth

OSHA requires employers to provide hard hats when workers are in areas where there is risk for a head injury from impact, falling objects or electrical shocks and burns. Hard hats come in a variety of types and are made to meet the American National Standards Institute hard hat standard (ANSI Z89.1-2014). Employers must provide the appropriate hard hat for the task at hand. The LHSFNA offers a number of materials that can help reduce the risk for falls and struck-bys at construction sites that can lead to concussions.

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