What to do With a Head
Injury at Work
24% of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are work related injuries (Colantonio et al., 2016), yet concussions in the workplace are often overlooked. Concussions in the workplace are most commonly caused by falls, getting struck in the head by falling objects, or motor vehicle accidents.
Compared to other work related injuries, concussions are very complex and can result in time lost from work. That’s why it’s critical for injured workers to get immediate care from healthcare providers who are specially trained in diagnosing and treating concussions from workplace injuries.
What is workers compensation?
Workers compensation, commonly known as workers comp, is a type of insurance held by an employer that provides monetary support to employees with work related injuries for medical expenses and lost wages. Find healthcare providers who specialize in workers compensation cases.
What are the most common causes of work-related injuries?
The 3 most common causes of work-related injuries are:
- Falls, trips, and slips
- Contact with objects and equipment
These three types of injuries account for more than 84% of non-fatal, work related injuries resulting in time lost from work.
The 3 most common causes of concussions in the workplace are:
- Falls, trips, slips
- Being struck in the head with an object
- Motor vehicle accidents
These injuries may be caused by tripping on clutter, slipping on a wet surface, falling from an elevated surface, being struck by falling objects, etc.
If an employee gets a head injury at work, it’s important to get them immediate concussion treatment and work with them to file a workers compensation claim. Refer to The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for specific standards you must follow to ensure workers’ safety.
What to do if an employee gets a head injury at work
1. Be Prepared. Have a protocol in place for when one of your employees gets a head injury at work.
2. Respond Immediately. If an employee gets a head injury at work, refer them for specialized concussion treatment. Refer your employee to a healthcare provider who specializes in diagnosing and treating a concussion sustained in the workplace here under Workers Comp category.
3. Create a Work Injury Report. Keep a written record of the incident including equipment, pictures, and witness testimony.
4. Provide Workers Compensation Forms. If an employee gets a head injury at work, help them file a workers compensation claim with the company’s insurance provider.
5. Be Patient. Once an employee is cleared to return to work by a qualified healthcare provider, they may require some concussion accommodations such as reduced hours or avoiding certain tasks.
How can work related injuries be prevented?
No matter how much you prepare, accidents can still happen. But taking these precautions can help prevent work related injuries and protect your employees:
- Have a protocol in place for concussions in the workplace
- Ensure employees are physically fit to perform a task before assigning it to them
- Avoid employee fatigue by having adequate staffing levels
- Have ongoing concussion safety training
- Keep the workplace tidy and free of tripping hazards
What should I do if I’m injured at work?
1. NOTIFY your supervisor of the injury immediately.
2. COMPLETE any workers compensation forms.
4. RETURN to work only when your healthcare provider clears you to do so.
When can I return to work after a concussion?
You should not go back to work until you’ve been cleared by your healthcare provider to do so. Your healthcare provider will then create a tailored return to work treatment plan focused on getting you back to your work-specific activities. While concussion recovery is different for everyone, most people are able to return to work in 1-2 weeks after their concussion. If symptoms do not improve after 3 weeks, you may require further concussion evaluation and treatment.
Once your healthcare provider clears you to return to work, they will provide suggested work restrictions and accommodations that may include reduced hours and avoiding certain tasks. Since you will likely still be experiencing concussion symptoms, it’s important to listen to your body and not overexert yourself. Doing the following can help you manage your symptoms when returning to work:
- Take frequent rest breaks
- Establish a daily routine
- Allow yourself extra time to complete tasks
- Do tasks that require more energy in the morning, or whenever you feel your best
- Try to get a good night’s rest
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you are struggling to manage your concussion symptoms at work, you may need ongoing intervention from a trained healthcare provider.