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Construction Depot

Safety and health newsletter for the Oregon construction industry

April 18, 2016

image of brain scans

Fatal traumatic brain injuries in the construction industry

The construction industry has more fatal traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) than any other industry in this country according to a report published in the March 2016 American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

The report presents the findings of NIOSH researchers who examined TBI-related deaths in the construction industry from 2003 through 2010. During that time, 2,210 construction workers died from traumatic brain injuries, which accounted for 25 percent of all construction fatalities. TBIs are a leading cause of death in the construction industry.

Other key findings in the report:

TBI is typically caused by a one-time event, but no two TBI injuries are alike and the outcomes of two similar injuries may be very different. Symptoms may appear right away or not for days or weeks after the injury. Car crashes, firearms, and falls cause the majority of TBIs. Unlike people who have broken arms or legs, people with a TBI may not even realize that the injury has occurred.

A traumatic brain injury is generally classified as mild if loss of consciousness, confusion, or disorientation is shorter than 30 minutes. In mild cases, MRI and CAT scans are often normal, though the person can have cognitive problems such as headache, difficulty thinking, memory problems, attention deficits, and mood swings.

The difference between TBIs and CTEs

There is another type brain injury that you've probably heard about, but you might have a difficult time saying: chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is caused by many impacts to the head over a period of time and symptoms may not appear for eight to 10 years after the events. CTE injuries are most common in athletes who participate in contact sports such as football, ice hockey, professional wrestling, and boxing where multiple concussions or other brain trauma are possible.

Worth noting:

As of April 4 this year, there have been 11 work-related falls in Oregon serious enough to require hospital stays for one or more nights. Workers had head injuries in at least three of those cases.



In this issue

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But remember: the information in this newsletter is intended to highlight safe work practices, but it does not replace Oregon OSHA workplace safety and health rules.

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