National Concussion Awareness Day, Sept. 16, is a great time to review your company’s protocols for head injuries in the workplace. Concussions or traumatic brain injuries that occur on the job typically happen due to falls, falling objects or motor vehicle crashes — and, unfortunately, these types of injuries can be some of the most difficult to recognize and treat.
In terms of cost, the financial impact of a brain injury can sometimes be felt for years after the initial incident. According to the Brain Injury Law Center, the total cost of a serious brain injury can exceed six figures in the first year alone. With that and the safety of employees in mind, it is important that all staff be aware of the dangers of workplace head injuries.
If one of your employees has a head injury at work, what should you do?
Be Prepared. Have a plan in place for dealing with head injuries, and ensure management and staff know and understand the assessment and treatment procedures. The CDC provides a list of symptoms that employees can look out for — which may either be observed by others or reported by the injured individual.
Respond Immediately. If an employee injures his or her head while at work, time is of the essence. Quickly assess the individual for signs of a concussion and seek further treatment if symptoms are present. Mercy Occupational Medicine offers comprehensive concussion assessments through BrainScope technology.
Create a Work Injury Report. Keep a record of the incident, citing any equipment involved, pictures of the equipment and injury, and witness testimony. OSHA may require this type of reporting for specific injuries.
Provide Workers’ Compensation Support. If an employee is injured at work, help them file a workers’ compensation claim with the company’s insurance provider.
Be Patient. Once an employee is cleared to return to work, they may require special accommodations such as reduced hours or avoiding certain tasks.
Since a concussion may not be a visible injury, an employee who has sustained any form of head injury should be immediately checked for possible concussion. They should be taken to an urgent care or emergency room for diagnosis, and then referred to a specialist or neurologist for further treatment, if necessary.
Mercy Urgent Care is equipped to quickly and efficiently diagnose concussions and other brain injuries through an innovative device called BrainScope®, a medical tool that can detect and identify a wide spectrum of brain injuries, including concussions, structural injuries and injuries to brain function. BrainScope assessments, available at our West Asheville and Waynesville clinic locations, can be performed in about an hour, saving precious time and money over a lengthy ER visit.
What can employers do to prevent concussions in the workplace?
Below are a few tips for creating a safer work environment. Implementing these changes and sharing these suggestions with employees can help prevent potential head injuries at work.
- Remove tripping hazards. Keep walkways and workspaces free of clutter, cords, water or anything that could cause a slip, trip or fall.
- Ensure that proper signage is available and visible to alert employees of wet or slippery surfaces.
- Use handrails when climbing or descending stairs.
- Advise employees to be cautious when working from heights. Never stand on the top two steps of a ladder.
- If a job requires a helmet, make sure it fits properly and is in good condition.
- Make sure all vehicles, whether in warehouses or on the road, are well-maintained and fully operational.
- Keep heavy or bulky objects stored on lower shelves, and avoid maneuvering heavy items above your head.
BrainScope head injury assessments at Mercy Urgent Care are fast, patient-friendly, accurate and comprehensive. The BrainScope system can even be used to establish a baseline for your employees, which can be helpful should an injury occur.