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Traumatic brain injury: high risk for construction workers

As a New Jersey construction worker, the various job sites where you work can be hectic, noisy and even dangerous. Because of the types of work you do, you often must do them at a considerable height, such as on roofs, scaffolding or tall ladders. Consequently, you are at high risk of falling and sustaining a debilitating injury, one of the most frequent of which is a traumatic brain injury: a head or neck injury that causes your brain to dysfunction.

Nationwide, over 2,200 construction workers sustained a fatal TBI during a recent eight-year period. Over 50 percent of these injuries were the result of a fall, accounting for 25 percent of all construction fatalities.

Workers at highest risk

Regardless of the type of construction work you do, your risk of sustaining a TBI is greatest if you are one of the following:

  • A worker 65 years old or older
  • A worker for a construction company employing fewer than 20 workers
  • A worker born in a country other than the United States

Types of TBIs

There are many ways in which you could sustain a traumatic brain injury while at work. One way is by receiving a major jolt to your head or neck that causes your brain to violently move back and forth in your skull, thereby injuring itself. Another is by receiving a penetrating head injury caused by a piece of glass, a sharp tool or flying debris piercing your skull and damaging your brain.

TBI symptoms

One of the most frightening things about a TBI is that its symptoms may or may not appear immediately. While no two TBIs are identical and symptoms can vary from person to person, the following are common TBI symptoms that could occur hours, days or weeks after your accident:

  • You have headaches or recurring bouts of nausea and vomiting.
  • Your vision blurs or you hear a constant ringing in your ears.
  • Your coordination or balance becomes problematic or you often feel dizzy.
  • You develop difficulties speaking, concentrating or remembering.
  • You find you cannot remain asleep at night or you find that you have great difficulty waking up in the morning.

In addition, you or your family members could notice that your moods and behaviors are different from what they were prior to your accident. For instance, you may become more anxious, depressed, hostile or combative.

Any and all head injuries are serious, whether or not you believe them to be at the time you receive them. Always seek immediate medical attention whenever you sustain a “bump” to your head. Only a trained health care professional can assess your injury, run and interpret the necessary tests and arrive at a diagnosis. If your injury really is a TBI, the sooner you begin proper treatment and therapy, the better your chances that your TBI effects can be minimized.

Needless to say, your medical costs can mount quickly if you receive a traumatic brain injury at work. In addition, you may be off work for a considerable period of time recovering from it. If your TBI is severe, you could be permanently disabled. Therefore, you may wish to consider filing a workers’ compensation claim or personal injury lawsuit against your employer.