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Falls big source of fatal brain injuries in construction industry

Construction workers in North Carolina face many hazards from working in high places and in the vicinity of moving or falling objects. Safety researchers have recorded over 2,000 fatal traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in construction workers between 2003 and 2010. They calculated that for every group of 100,000 full-time workers, 2.6 died from this cause. Among workers age 65 and older in this industry, falls represented the top source of these deadly blows to the head.

Some construction companies are pursuing improvements to traditional hard hats to reduce the incidence of TBIs. Technology used in helmets designed for mountain climbing and athletics could update construction-oriented head gear. Hard hats as they are today depend on about an inch of space between the shell and skull to absorb impacts. An engineer from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said that construction workers deserve the benefits of improved helmets that draw upon new developments in engineering and material science.

The mandate to protect workers' heads has long been established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Rule 29 C.F.R. 1926.100 requires helmets for people exposed to heights, electrical currents and falling or flying objects.

A worker who has been hurt on the job where an employer did not provide adequate safety gear might want to consider the possibility of a personal injury lawsuit. An attorney's analysis of the case might help the victim make the choice between a lawsuit or filing a workers' compensation claim. In either situation, an attorney could advise the worker about rights to compensation and medical care. Records about the work injury and medical needs could be organized by the lawyer and used as evidence to justify a settlement for medical expenses, lost wages and potentially disability.

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