The Chicago personal injury law firm of Morici, Longo & Associates has a wealth of experience in the representation of brain injury victims. Our current and past clients have suffered traumatic brain injuries under many different circumstances, whether they are injured construction workers or victims of Chicago auto accidents.
This is the third in a series of articles covering various topics concerning traumatic brain injury (TBI), including brain injury symptoms and complications of brain injury. Here we will discuss some of the ways people are subjected to brain injury and how those accidents can be prevented.
Common Causes of TBI at Work & On the Road
The top 3 causes of TBI are falls, being struck by or against an object, and traffic accidents. These are the scenarios that we will focus on here.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that the most common work-related injuries occur as a result of falls. Falls from heights are the leading cause of death on construction sites and are a major cause of concussions and brain injuries.
Not every workplace fall injury is from a height, however. Slips, trips, and falls often occur on working surfaces. Head injuries frequently result from an impact with the floor or some other object or structure.
Some of our past clients have fallen from heights as a result of work surfaces giving way, as was the case of an injured ironworker who fell when the metal decking he was standing on became dislodged from its bearing points. Falls may also result from slipping off a pipe or beam from which someone is working. One client fell off a pipe and into an excavation causing a severe head injury. Falls from ladders or off scaffolding are also common occurrences.
Falling objects are another frequent cause of head injuries. One client, who was a construction laborer, was injured when a clamp weighing thirty pounds fell twenty feet off a scaffold crushing his hard hat and rendering him with a permanent brain injury. Another client, an assembly line worker, became permanently disabled when a defectively designed hook allowed a large machine part to fall from an overhead crane striking him in the head. He was left with a severe loss of cognitive function and daily headaches. A recent client suffered a catastrophic injury and almost died when a portion of a defectively designed crane broke dropping a heavy part on him.
Falling off vehicles like ATVs or off construction equipment frequently results in head injury as well as broken bones. One client was left with serious head injuries when he fell from the rear platform of a scooter when it swerved, throwing him off and causing his head to strike the street.
The previously described brain injuries were the result of a direct impact with the skull caused by the ground or a falling object. However, as we learned in an earlier writing, most head injuries are not the result of a direct impact upon the outside of the head but rather from an impact between the brain and the inside of the skull.
In that same writing, we described the brain as having the consistency of a Jell-O mold. Many closed head injuries occur when there is a sudden acceleration and deceleration of the head, such as whiplash in an automobile accident. The brain bounces back and forth, striking the inside of the skull.
Whether it’s caused by a slip and fall accident at work or a car crash involving whiplash or flying debris that strikes the head, TBI is an incredibly common and deadly affliction that kills over 50,000 people in the U.S. every year.
TBI Prevention Methods
The prevention of accidents on construction sites and in the workplace is of paramount importance. OSHA and other authorities concerned with preventing injuries outline a multitude of measures that if enforced can help reduce falls and injuries from falling objects. Standards for proper housekeeping and clearing aisles and passageways are specifically designed to prevent falls. Seeing to it that debris and spills are promptly cleaned up or removed can prevent many injuries.
Scaffold and ladder regulations are meant to prevent workers, tools, and materials from falling from them. Enforcing the proper and safe use of those supports and providing them when needed can prevent many injuries.
Unfortunately, many general contractors and others who are in the best position to require and enforce safety in construction ignore their obligations in the pursuit of expediency or cost-cutting. They frequently ignore unsafe work practices or unsafe conditions. Too often general contractors and their site supervision do not enforce fall protection and allow workers to be exposed to falls from unprotected heights while climbing or moving from one work position to another. Stronger enforcement of safety compliance by those in charge of construction sites and workplaces has been shown to significantly reduce and, in some cases, eliminate injuries.
Distracted driving is the number one cause of rear-end and T-bone auto collisions which result in tens of thousands of head injuries per year. The acceleration/deceleration caused by vehicle impacts imparts significant forces upon the head and the vulnerable brain tissue inside. Putting down the phone when driving is one of the most effective methods of avoiding such incidents.
By ensuring a safe environment at work and driving defensively, you are setting yourself up to remain safe from the debilitating effects of TBI.
If you or any of your friends, neighbors, coworkers, or family members have been injured at work or have suffered a personal injury resulting in a traumatic brain injury in Chicago, please do not hesitate to contact us online or at (312) 779-0366.