A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine determined that construction workers have some of the highest rates of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in the country. Along with the agricultural, forestry, and fishing industries, construction accidents account for nearly 50 percent of all TBI fatalities.
Traumatic brain injuries can range from mild concussions to fatal blows. Motor vehicle accidents and falls account for 60 percent of occupational TBIs, but encounters with workplace objects and equipment are also far too common and account for almost 20 percent of the total. Workplace TBIs cause more fatalities in men than women.
Fortunately, safety equipment exists to protect workers from TBIs. Employers are required to provide all employees with hard hats when they are working at a construction site. Hard hats are designed to absorb the impact of falling objects, and ultimately protect against head injury. What many workers do not know, however, is that federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) regulations require employers to provide more than just a hard hat.
Under OSHA regulations, employers must provide "personal protection equipment." Personal protection equipment, or PPE, should protect the head, face and extremities. Equipment may include hard hats, safety glasses, protective clothing, respiratory aids and hearing protection. All PPE is required to be provided at no cost to the employee.
OSHA regulations also require employers to monitor the condition of employee safety equipment and repair or replace any damaged or failing gear. In the event that an employee would like to use personally purchased safety equipment, employers still need to check to see if the equipment will satisfactorily protect employees from workplace hazards.
Although workplace traumatic brain injury fatalities have decreased over 20 percent in recent years, neglecting to wear and repair proper safety equipment increases the risks posed to workers while on the job. Employers should heed the federal OSHA regulations and strive to create the safest workplace possible in order to avoid employee injury or wrongful death.