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Traumatic Brain Injuries from Construction Accidents [2024 Guide]

Written By:
Tor Hoerman
Tor Hoerman

Attorney Tor Hoerman, admitted to the Illinois State Bar Association since 1995 and The Missouri Bar since 2009, specializes nationally in mass tort litigations. Locally, Tor specializes in auto accidents and a wide variety of personal injury incidents occuring in Illinois and Missouri.

This article has been written and reviewed for legal accuracy and clarity by the team of writers and attorneys at TorHoerman Law and is as accurate as possible. This content should not be taken as legal advice from an attorney. If you would like to learn more about our owner and experienced injury lawyer, Tor Hoerman, you can do so here.

TorHoerman Law does everything possible to make sure the information in this article is up to date and accurate. If you need specific legal advice about your case, contact us. This article should not be taken as advice from an attorney.

An Overview of Traumatic Brain Injuries From Construction Site Accidents, Causes, & Long-Term Effects

On this page, we’ll discuss traumatic brain injuries from construction accidents, how head injuries occur in the construction industry, the long-term effects of a traumatic brain injury on a construction worker’s life, and much more.

Traumatic Brain Injuries: A Serious Concern for Construction Workers

Construction job sites are filled with hazards that put workers at risk of being injured.

Of all the potential injuries a construction worker could sustain, traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are some of the worst.

A traumatic brain injury causes life-altering changes in a construction worker’s life.

These injuries can result in long-term disabilities, impact their ability to work and earn a living, and even lead to death.

Traumatic Brain Injuries from Construction Accidents

Because of its threat, construction companies must take all necessary precautions to prevent TBIs from occurring on their job sites.

By thoroughly understanding how head injuries occur in the construction industry, companies can implement effective safety measures to protect their workers.

If you’re a construction worker or work on a construction site and suffer a severe blow to the head, our legal team at TorHoerman Law can help you navigate the complexities of seeking compensation.

Contact us now to book a free consultation.

You can also use the chatbot on this page for a free and fast evaluation.

Table of Contents

An Overview of TBIs

TBIs are a form of brain injury caused by a sudden trauma to the head, which can result in damage to brain tissues.

TBIs can range from mild TBI (e.g. concussions) to severe TBI (e.g. prolonged unconsciousness or amnesia after the injury).

Types of TBIs include:

  • Mild TBIs (Concussion): Symptoms may include temporary confusion, headache, dizziness, and memory problems. These symptoms often resolve with time.
  • Moderate TBIs: Symptoms may include longer-lasting confusion, cognitive issues, physical impairments, and emotional difficulties.
  • Severe TBI: This type of TBI can result in prolonged unconsciousness, lifelong cognitive impairments, and permanent disability.

The construction industry is one of the most hazardous sectors regarding workplace injuries.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a total of 1,015 construction workers died while performing their duties.

In terms of TBI incidence, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) revealed that 2,210 cases of construction fatalities from 2023 to 2010 were related to traumatic brain injuries.

The agency also shared that workers from small construction companies are 2.5 times more likely to die from TBI than bigger size companies.

Construction workers face a high risk of sustaining TBIs due to the dynamic nature of their work environment, which often involves working at heights, handling heavy machinery, and exposure to falling objects.

The prevalence of TBIs in the construction industry highlights the critical need for effective safety measures and protective practices.

By understanding the risks and implementing robust safety protocols, the industry can reduce the incidence of these life-altering injuries and protect the health and well-being of its workers.

The Common Causes of TBIs on Construction Sites

There are numerous ways for construction workers to sustain injuries at work.

From falls to slips and machine failure, the construction site isn’t a safe place even for the most careful worker.

Falls From Heights

Workers can fall from scaffolding due to improper assembly, lack of guardrails, or failure to use personal fall arrest systems.

The same scenario could also happen with ladders due to incorrect usage, defective ladders, or improper ladder placement.

Workers may also fall from roofs or other elevated platforms due to edge exposure, lack of fall protection systems, or slippery surfaces.

Proper safety standards and employee training are vital to mitigate fall risks.

Employers should regularly assess the safety of elevated work areas, provide appropriate fall protection equipment, and ensure workers are trained in its use.

Struck by Falling Objects

The construction site is full of hazards, such as moving machinery and falling objects, which can result in struck-by injuries to the head.

Workers may suffer from a severe TBI by being struck by heavy equipment or materials, such as cranes, bulldozers, or steel beams.

Employers should implement measures to prevent severe head injuries.

These measures include providing personal protective equipment (PPE) like hard hats, ensuring all equipment is adequately maintained and inspected regularly, and enforcing strict safety protocols.

Accidents Involving Heavy Machinery

Construction workers operate various types of heavy machinery, including forklifts, excavators, and concrete mixers.

These machines pose a significant threat to workers’ safety if not operated correctly or maintained appropriately.

Regular maintenance of frequently used machinery can significantly reduce the risk of accidents.

Employers should also hold lessons to teach workers how to troubleshoot equipment, correctly use it, and perform daily maintenance checks.

Slips and Trips on Uneven Surfaces

Construction sites are constantly changing, with uneven ground and debris frequently present.

Workers may slip or trip, resulting in a fall that can cause head injuries.

Employers should ensure all walkways are clear and well-maintained on construction sites to minimize the risk of slips, trips, and falls.

Employers should provide workers with appropriate footwear to navigate uneven surfaces safely.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of TBIs?

The effects of TBI last for a long time and, in some cases, a lifetime.

Depending on the severity of the injury, the effects could range from a long-term injury to a complete debilitation.

Potential Long-Term Effects of Mild TBIs

Mild traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can lead to a range of long-term effects that may impact cognitive function, emotional well-being, and physical health.

Potential long-term effects of mild TBIs includes:

  • Chronic Headaches: A severe head injury can cause chronic headaches, which can persist long after the initial injury, leading to discomfort and distraction.
  • Dizziness and Balance Issues: Ongoing dizziness can affect a person’s ability to perform tasks that require stability and coordination.
  • Short-Term Memory Problems: Short-term memory loss can make it difficult to remember recent events, impacting daily activities and job performance.
  • Concentration Difficulties: Difficulty focusing can reduce productivity and the ability to complete tasks efficiently.
  • Mood Swings: Emotional instability and mood swings can affect personal relationships and workplace interactions.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Sleep issues can lead to fatigue, further affecting cognitive and physical performance.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Construction workers might develop PTSD, preventing them from performing high-risk duties.

Even mild TBIs can significantly affect a worker’s ability to perform their duties, especially in roles that require high levels of concentration and physical coordination.

Persistent symptoms can also affect social interactions and lead to isolation, impacting overall quality of life.

Potential Long-Term Effects of Severe TBIs

Severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can result in significant, lasting impacts on cognitive abilities, physical health, and emotional stability, often requiring ongoing medical care and rehabilitation.

Potential long-term effects of severe TBIs includes:

  • Cognitive Impairment: Severe TBIs can lead to significant issues with thinking, memory, and reasoning, making it challenging to perform complex tasks or learn new skills.
  • Personality Changes: Changes in personality and behavior (i.e., increased irritability, aggression, apathy) can affect personal and professional relationships.
  • Physical Disabilities: Severe TBIs can result in motor deficits, such as paralysis, tremors, or difficulty with coordination, limiting mobility and independence.
  • Speech and Communication Problems: Difficulty with speech and language can impair the ability to communicate effectively.
  • Seizures: Some individuals may develop epilepsy or experience seizures, requiring ongoing medical management.
  • Permanent Disability: Severe TBIs can lead to permanent disability, requiring long-term care and rehabilitation.

Many individuals with severe TBIs may be unable to return to their previous jobs or any form of employment, leading to financial strain and loss of purpose.

Severe impairments also necessitate long-term medical care, rehabilitation, and assistance with daily living activities.

The Employer's Role in Construction Accidents

Depending on the facts of the accident, the employer or the construction management could be liable for the worker’s injuries.

In such cases, employers may offer workers’ compensation to assist the worker’s recovery.

Workers’ compensation claims provide financial benefits and medical care to employees who suffer work-related injuries, including TBIs.

These benefits can include medical expenses, wage replacement, and rehabilitation costs.

To receive workers’ compensation, a worker must sustain a work-related injury and follow the proper reporting and medical evaluation procedures.

Many workers’ compensation programs include return-to-work initiatives that help injured employees reintegrate into the workforce through modified duties and vocational training.

Strategies To Minimize TBI Accidents in Construction Sites

Construction sites are inherently risky environments, and head injuries are a significant concern due to various hazards, such as falling objects, falls from heights, and accidents involving heavy machinery.

To effectively mitigate these incidents, employers must adopt a holistic approach that includes prevention measures, proper safety equipment usage, thorough safety training, and strict adherence to workplace safety standards and regulations.

Prevention Measures

Before commencing any work, employers and workers must conduct a thorough risk assessment of the construction site.

Identify potential hazards that could lead to head injuries, such as:

  • Falling Objects: Assess areas where tools, materials, or debris could fall from heights. Implement barricades, toe boards, and debris nets to prevent objects from falling.
  • Falls from Heights: Evaluate scaffolding, ladders, and elevated work platforms. Ensure they are properly erected, secured, and equipped with guardrails or fall arrest systems.
  • Slips, Trips, and Falls: Inspect walkways, stairs, and work surfaces for hazards like uneven surfaces, spills, and obstructions. Keep these areas clear and well-maintained.

Based on the risk assessment, managers must implement control measures to eliminate or minimize hazards, such as redesigning workflows, implementing engineering controls, or using administrative controls like signage and work procedures.

Safety Equipment

While on the job, employers must emphasize the mandatory use of hard hats for all workers and visitors on the construction site.

Hard hats should meet appropriate safety standards and be inspected regularly for signs of damage or wear.

Depending on the specific hazards present, employers must also ensure workers use other appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as safety goggles, face shields, and ear protection.

Ensure that each worker’s hard hat fits properly and comfortably.

Provide different sizes and adjustable suspension systems to accommodate individual needs.

Make sure to promptly replace any damaged or worn-out equipment.

Safety Training

Implementing a regular safety workshop or training helps reiterate the importance of creating a safe workspace.

Employers or facilitators must develop and implement regular comprehensive safety training programs tailored to the specific tasks and hazards present on the construction site.

Include training modules on hazard recognition, safe work practices, emergency procedures, and the proper use of PPE.

Provide hands-on training and practical demonstrations to ensure workers understand how to apply safety principles in real-world situations.

Incorporate scenario-based training exercises to simulate potential hazards and practice appropriate responses.

Schedule regular refresher courses, especially for tenured workers, to reinforce safety knowledge and update workers on any changes in safety regulations or site-specific procedures.

Encourage continuous learning and engagement in safety practices with toolbox talks, safety meetings, and feedback sessions.

Workplace Safety Standards

Employers must ensure compliance with all applicable workplace safety standards and regulations set forth by OSHA, local regulatory agencies, and industry best practices.

They should also regularly review and update safety protocols to align with the latest standards and guidelines.

Scaffolding is among the most hazardous equipment on a work site.

Because of this risk, employers must train workers on the proper setup, use, and dismantling of scaffolding and conduct regular inspections to verify its structural integrity and stability.

Employers and managers should also implement procedures for securely storing and fastening tools and materials when working at heights.

To prevent items from falling, encourage the use of tool lanyards, buckets, or containers.

Employers should also conduct frequent safety audits and inspections to identify potential hazards and ensure compliance with safety standards.

Involve workers in safety audits to encourage participation and input in improving safety measures.

The Importance of Immediate and Proper Medical Attention

Head injuries, whether mild or severe, require prompt medical evaluation and ongoing care to ensure the best possible recovery outcomes for the affected individual.

The significance of immediate medical attention cannot be overstated, as it plays a crucial role in preventing complications, managing symptoms, and promoting recovery.

Prompt medical evaluation allows healthcare professionals to assess the severity of the head injury and determine if a TBI has occurred.

If it hasn’t, medical professionals can perform strategies to prevent further complications.

In cases of moderate to severe head injuries, immediate medical evaluation can detect and monitor for signs of intracranial bleeding (hemorrhage), which, if untreated, can lead to fatal complications.

Early intervention facilitates the early detection of injury severity, prevention of complications, and effective management of symptoms.

This proactive approach not only benefits the injured individual but also contributes to a safer and more supportive workplace environment overall.

TorHoerman Law: Talk to Our Construction Accident Attorneys

Construction companies can reduce the incidence of traumatic brain injuries on their sites with an effective safety protocol and consistent execution.

Workers also play a crucial role in this effort by observing and following safety protocols, advocating for their own health and safety, and seeking prompt medical attention if injuries occur.

For those who have experienced a TBI or sustained a head injury, understanding their rights under workers’ compensation laws and seeking legal advice can ensure they receive appropriate support and compensation for their injuries.

At TorHoerman Law, our legal team can help injured workers navigate the legal intricacies of their situation.

Call us now for a free consultation.

Our chatbot is also available for a quick and free case evaluation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are common causes of traumatic brain injuries on construction sites?

    Common causes of traumatic brain injuries from construction accidents include falls from elevated heights, being struck by falling objects, and accidents involving heavy equipment.

    Construction workers are at a higher risk due to the nature of their work environment, which often involves overhead hazards and the need for fall protection.

    Proper use of personal protective equipment, such as safety helmets, and adherence to occupational safety protocols can significantly reduce these risks.

  • What types of injuries can result from caught-in/between accidents?

    Traumatic brain injuries on construction sites can range from mild TBIs, such as concussions, to severe TBIs, which can result in long-term cognitive impairments and life-threatening conditions.

    Severe head injuries can cause skull fractures, penetrating injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

    These injuries often require extensive medical treatment and long-term rehabilitation, significantly impacting the lives of injured workers.

  • How can construction workers prevent caught-in/between accidents?

    Construction workers can prevent traumatic brain injuries by consistently wearing personal protective equipment, such as hard hats with an air bubble cushioning liner.

    Employers should ensure the use of fall protection systems and safety nets to prevent falls from elevated heights.

    Regular safety training and proper maintenance of safety equipment are essential to mitigate the risk of head injuries on construction sites.

  • What should I do if I experience symptoms of a traumatic brain injury on a construction site?

    If you experience symptoms of a traumatic brain injury, such as headaches, dizziness, confusion, or loss of consciousness, seek immediate medical attention from a healthcare provider.

    Report the head injury to your supervisor and ensure that it is documented as a work-related injury.

    Prompt medical evaluation and treatment are crucial to prevent further complications and to file a workers’ compensation claim for your medical expenses and lost wages.

  • Can I seek compensation if I suffer from a heat-related illness at work?

    Yes, you can seek compensation if you suffer from a traumatic brain injury at work.

    Workers’ compensation claims can cover medical expenses, lost wages, and long-term rehabilitation costs associated with your injury.

    It is essential to report the injury promptly and consult with a legal professional to ensure that your rights are protected and that you receive the appropriate compensation for your work-related injury.

Written By:
Tor Hoerman

Tor Hoerman

Owner & Attorney - TorHoerman Law

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