Brain Injury Awareness in the Construction Industry
In high-risk industries such as construction, brain injuries can and do occur – but how preventable are they? Melanie Burden, solicitor at Simpson Millar explains what employers and employees alike can do to prevent and minimise the risks within the industry.
- Brain injuries caused by injuries to the head at work are preventable in many instances
- In many cases, head injuries can be fatal; for survivors, the brain injuries they are left with can be permanently debilitating, with life-changing consequences
- Employers are legally obliged to provide all employees with the proper and necessary safety equipment and training
How Common Are Brain Injuries In Construction?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
highlights high percentages of accident types on construction sites that are likely to give rise to a head or brain injury:
- Falls from Height - 33%
- Slips Trips and Falls - 21%
- Struck by Object - 11%
The statistics for fatal accidents at work in 2014/15 show that of the 142 fatalities, 35 workers were fatally injured on a construction site – that's almost 25% of all fatalities. There were also an estimated 5,400 non-fatal accidents reported by employees on construction sites.
Year on year, whilst the number of work related illnesses injuries
have shown a downward trend in musculoskeletal injuries, the levels of work related stress, depression and anxiety in the Construction industry have remained static. This could be an indicator that some injured employees are suffering from subtle neuro-psychological symptoms arising from a head injury.
Melanie comments:"Despite all the legislation in place, we are sadly still seeing instances of head injuries occurring on construction sites which could have been avoided."
What Is The Most Dangerous Type Of Construction, And Who Is Most At Risk?
The HSE analysis of the Labour Force Survey for 2014/15 shows that the highest risk categories for reported accidents in the Construction Industry were
- Construction of Buildings
- Specialised Construction Activities
Surprisingly, skilled workers and tradesmen are the groups most at risk of being injured, more so than less experienced or unskilled workers. The injury rate for skilled construction workers and tradesmen was more than twice the all industry average.
How Do Brain Injuries Occur In The Construction Industry?
An acquired brain injury occurs to the brain after birth. The charity Headway
defines an acquired brain injury as "A non-progressive acquired injury to the brain with sudden onset."
This could be in the form of a stroke, a brain tumour, aneurysm, or brain haemorrhage.
There are three main instances in the construction industry where this type of brain injury is common:
- It is most likely due to a traumatic injury to the head on the construction site. This could be a blow to the head or the neck after a fall, or being struck by an object
- It might be after exposure to a very loud, one off noise or prolonged exposure to noisy equipment on site which brings on the onset of tinnitus associated with hearing loss
- It could also occur when the brain is starved of oxygen if a worker is exposed to Carbon Monoxide.
What Must Employers Do To Safeguard Their Employees?
The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992 impose a duty of care on employers in the construction industry to ensure all workers are provided with suitable head protection where there is a risk of injury. This is to prevent or minimise the risk of head injury.
There are a few steps to ensure that employees are kept safe:
- Hard hats should be inspected and regularly maintained
- They should be kept in good condition, and if damaged in any way, they must be disposed of and replaced immediately
- Employers should have a policy to ensure all workers have to wear helmets at all times when on site
- All employees should be fully familiarised with all relevant legislation, which should be this is readily accessible
- Provide employees with guides to preventative accidents, and promote construction site safety. The HSE provides easily downloadable guides, here.
Suffered From An Accident On A Construction Site?
If you've been unlucky enough to sustain a head or brain injury on a construction site that wasn't your fault – you could be able to claim compensation against your employer
. A brain or head injury can be life changing – not just for you, but for your family and friends, as well as your career. Simpson Millar are on hand to give you advice and support when you need it most. Our team of expert solicitors offer jargon-free, actionable advice, whatever your circumstances.
All you need to do is call us, for a no-obligation chat on 0808 129 3320 or alternatively, fill out our enquiry form and we will contact you a time that is convenient.