March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. While oftentimes preventable, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is considered by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to be one of the most common and disabling injuries in the U.S. TBIs account for about 2.2 million emergency room visits per year. 50,000 cases of brain injury result in death every year. Brain injury is a serious threat in many work environments. In honor of the month, we’d like to share some facts about traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the workplace. We’d also like to offer procedural suggestions on ways to prevent brain injury in the workplace.
FACT: 22% of all work-related injury fatalities between 2003 and 2008 involved traumatic brain injury.
FACT: Washington State Trauma Registry and workers’ compensation claims on file with the Washington Department of Labor and Industries revealed that nearly 20% of all reported workplace injuries involved TBI.
FACT: Falls are the leading cause of TBI, both in and out of the workplace.
FACT: Each year, 80,000 to 90,000 cases of TBI result in long-term disability
What can you do to prevent brain injury in the workplace?
- Keep walking surfaces clear: Cluttered, slippery, uneven, or otherwise unsafe walking surfaces are the most common culprits of fall injuries.
- Non-slip footwear: If slippery surfaces are unavoidable in your workplace, create a policy requiring workers to wear non-slip shoes.
- Head protection: If head-injury is a threat in your workplace, implement a policy requiring workers to wear head protection. Helmets must be able to resist penetration, absorb the shock of a forceful blow, and protect against electrical shock to comply with American National Standards Institute’s consensus standards.
- Warning signs: Use warning signs on-site to let workers know about potential hazards. Encourage workers to be aware of signs and to take them seriously.
- Seatbelts: If your workers operate any type of motor vehicle on the job, require and regularly remind them to fasten their seatbelts. Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of TBI in the United States.
- Secure overhead objects: In some work environments, overhead objects are liable to fall and cause brain injury to workers. These could be unsecured objects in high-up storage spaces, hanging fixtures, natural objects (rocks, tree branches), etc. Make sure to analyze any worksite for overhead dangers and secure those objects before allowing workers to begin.
Traumatic brain injury is a common and serious issue in the workplace. With proper precautions and set procedures in place, we can all do our part to prevent and reduce the severity of work-related brain injuries. OccuMed provides workplace health and safety training programs that help both management and workers create a safer environment. Check out our available classes here and start making your workplace safer today!