In early December 2016, a worker in Brooklyn, NY fell to his death while working on the facade of the old Domino Sugar building. The cause of death was head trauma caused by the fall, although it was not mentioned whether or not the worker was wearing his hardhat when he fell. All work on the job site has been stopped while the fall is investigated, and now the attention in construction focuses on head trauma injuries.
What Is Head Trauma?
Head trauma can be classified in a variety of ways including open, closed, primary, or secondary. Open head trauma does not mean that the brain is exposed as a result of an accident. With open head trauma, the skull has been penetrated which may or may not mean that the brain has been damaged.
Closed head trauma occurs when there is damage to the skull or the brain, but neither the skull nor the brain has been directly penetrated. An example of a closed head trauma would be a concussion, which occurs when the brain is violently shaken but is not penetrated.
Primary head trauma is any injury caused as a direct result of an open or closed injury. A contusion (bruising or bleeding of the brain) is a common example of primary head trauma. The way in which a primary head injury affects the brain and the body depends almost solely on which part of the brain is injured. If there is a primary injury to the portion of the brain that controls involuntary breathing, then the victim could stop breathing on their own.
Secondary head trauma conditions occur as a result of primary trauma. For instance, if the involuntary breathing portion of the brain is injured, then that could cause a secondary condition called hypoxia, which occurs where there is a lack of oxygen going to the brain.
Can Wearing Hardhats Help With Injuries?
Whenever non-construction workers think about head trauma on construction work sites, they always envision hard hat protection preventing worker deaths. This could be true if it weren’t for the fact that the Bureau of Labor Statistics found out that 84 percent of construction workers who experience head trauma were not wearing their hard hats.
Workers who were surveyed indicated that hardhats are uncomfortable to wear, make the summer heat unbearable, and the lack of enforcement for wearing hardhats by construction companies makes it easy for workers to take their hard hats off while they work. Meanwhile, the large majority of head trauma incidents that occur on job sites are simple instances of workers hitting their heads on objects or objects falling from heights. In other words, many of the head trauma injuries seen on construction sites could be prevented if workers simply wore their hardhats.
What Can Companies Do To Encourage Better Safety?
Construction companies need to accept the idea that older hardhats are improperly designed, which makes them uncomfortable and undesirable to workers. Companies can invest in newer helmets that offer modern support systems that increase comfort and airflow maximization, allowing helmets to be cooler in the summer.
Construction companies and workers should also work together to heighten the understanding of how important it is to wear hardhats. A construction worker who takes off their hardhat because they believe it makes them look silly has obviously not been trained well enough on the effects of head trauma. Workers and companies can decide to take head trauma seriously and work together to make wearing hardhats second nature on every construction work site.
For a construction worker, a hard hat can be a life-saving construction safety device. However, there are facts about hardhats that many workers do not know, and knowing these facts could help enhance the safety offered by wearing hardhats.
Using paint thinner to get decals or paint off of a hardhat can weaken the hardhats protective shell. Workers should never use paint thinner when cleaning their hardhats.
Workers often enjoy putting decals on their hardhats, but this can affect your hardhat’s ability to protect you. Putting stickers on hard hats and putting extra holes in hardhats for ventilation are two ways to ruin the effectiveness of your protective equipment.
Check Your Hat
Before heading out for a work day, a worker should check their hardhat for any cracks, chips, holes, or other imperfections. These types of blemishes can reduce a hardhat’s effectiveness and a hardhat with these issues should be replaced immediately.
Head trauma is one of the dangers of working in construction, but it can be prevented. Correct training and enforcement of hardhat rules by companies and awareness of the importance of wearing head gear by workers can help to reduce the instances of head trauma in the construction industry.