Traumatic Brain Injuries: Prevention Measures Every Employer Should Take to Protect Workers

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According to the Brain Injury Association of America (BIAA), each year, more than 2.87 million Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) accidents result in emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths. The BIAA leads the nation in observing Brain Injury Awareness Month in March, which seeks to bring attention to the prevention of TBIs and promotes strategies to improve the quality of life for those living with TBI and their families. TBIs are among the most serious on-the-job injuries that can occur and can result in severe injury, permanent disability, or death. Due to the seriousness of these injuries, it is important that employers take steps to create awareness of the dangers of TBIs and take steps to reduce the risks of accidents in the workplace.

Traumatic Brain Injuries & Their Effects

The BIAA defines a TBI as “an alteration in brain function, or other evidence of brain pathology, caused by an external force or trauma.” A TBI caused by an accident, rather than caused by a hereditary or degenerative condition, or present at birth, is a type of acquired brain injury. Traumatic brain injuries can range from mild to severe. Signs and symptoms may appear immediately after the event, while others may take days or weeks to appear, so it’s important to monitor the affected person closely. In some cases, a person may experience common short-term effects such as headaches, confusion, dizziness, mood changes and memory loss. More severe injuries may result in symptoms such as seizures, numbness, weakness, slurred speech, extreme nausea, trouble waking from sleep, pupil dilation and loss of coordination. TBIs may result in long-term or permanent injuries, disability and, in some cases, may be fatal. Victims of serious TBIs may need to undergo surgery to address life-threatening conditions that may stem from the injury such as brain bleeds and hematomas. On top of the physical distress of TBIs, those affected may also suffer from emotional and mental anguish as a result of the incident, as well as the financial burden of hospital procedures, doctor’s office visits and time away from work.

Prevention Measures in the Workplace

As stated by Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) guidelines, it is the responsibility of the employer to provide a safe work environment. This includes making sure that the workplace is free from serious hazards and in compliance with OSHA standards. To reduce the risk of TBI-related injuries on the job, it’s important for employers to set the standard of safety by mitigating risks, implementing proper safety protocols and providing guidance on what to do if an accident were to occur on the job. An employer should seek to address the most common risks that lead to TBIs on the job, including falls, motor vehicle accidents and being struck by or against an object.


Falls account for almost half (48 percent) of all TBI-related emergency room visits, according to the CDC. For this reason, it is important that employers are aware of fall hazards in the workplace and have plans in place to prevent them. Some of the most common fall incidents are related to:

  • Ladders, roofs and other elevated surfaces
  • Slippery surfaces
  • Cluttered areas
  • Unstable walking areas

What can employers do to prevent falls from occurring? First, supervisors need to plan ahead for tasks where a fall could be imminent, such as a roofing or construction job on an elevated floor and ensure that workers’ tasks can be done safely. Second, employers need to make sure that workers are provided the proper PPE for the job. This can include:

  • Hard hats
  • Harnesses
  • Guardrails or lifelines
  • Footwear with adequate traction
  • Weather-related gear

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