Work injuries change lives, and that's especially true of traumatic brain injuries (TBI). Tens of thousands of brain injuries occur across America every year, and many of them are work-related. Pennsylvania employers need to practice traumatic brain injury prevention in order to keep their employees safe.
How brain injuries can happen at work
The majority of traumatic brain injuries are "closed-head injuries," meaning they result from blunt force trauma to the head. This can occur in work accidents when an employee slips or trips and falls, hitting their head on the ground, or when the head is struck by an object or struck against a wall.
Workplace violence can also cause traumatic brain injuries if an employee is hit in the head with a fist or weapon. Motor vehicle accidents are another common cause of brain injuries; a worker may hit their head on a window, windshield, or steering wheel, or violent head movement may cause the brain to strike the inside of the skull even without direct external trauma.
The other type of TBI is a penetrating head injury, which involves an object physically piercing the skull and entering the brain, or a fracture of the skull that causes pieces of bone to enter the brain. Penetrating head injuries are rare in most workplaces, but they can happen in incidents involving firearms, metal equipment, machinery, or explosions.
Steps employers must take
Employers are responsible for their employees' safety on the job, and that includes mitigating the risk of serious injuries like TBI as much as possible. Among the steps they must take are:
- Preventing slip, trip, and falls: spills need to be cleaned up and trip hazards repaired or removed as promptly as possible. Guardrails, railings, and other physical barriers need to be maintained. Lighting plays a significant role in falls as well, especially among older workers.
- Implementing safe driving policies: when it is necessary for employees to drive for work, safety needs to be the top priority. Companies have to implement and enforce distracted driving and sober driving policies. They should also be mindful of road conditions and avoid non-essential travel in bad weather.
- Providing personal protective equipment (PPE): in high-risk workplaces, protective equipment such as hard hats and slip-resistant footwear is a must. Employers need to acquire the right PPE for the job site, keep it properly stored and maintained, and train employees to use it correctly.
- Managing concussions when they occur: managers and supervisors need to be trained to recognize the signs of a concussion and actively encourage employees to get prompt medical attention. The employer also needs to be mindful of work restrictions on workers recovering from concussions to prevent re-injury during the healing process.
Your legal rights after a work-related brain injury
If you sustained a concussion or other brain injury in a work accident, Pennsylvania's workers' compensation system will pay for the full cost of reasonable and necessary medical care for the injury, as well as a portion of your lost wages.
Brain injuries often cause permanent impairment, and there are additional benefits available for workers who are permanently disabled. However, navigating the workers' compensation process is complicated, and getting the full compensation you deserve and the medical care you need is a challenging process.
You don't have to face that process alone. Attorney Richard A. Jaffe has decades of experience representing injured Pennsylvania workers, including workers with traumatic brain injuries.
We know how to move your claim through the workers' compensation system and advocate for the care and compensation you need.
Schedule your free consultation with the Law Offices of Richard A. Jaffe, LLC today.