There are several different ways that an employee can suffer a brain injury while at work. A worker could slip and fall on a wet floor or get hit on the head by falling debris or other objects. Regardless of how the head trauma happens, the brain injury that may follow can have devastating consequences.
Sometimes brain injuries go undetected. This is especially true when it is a minor injury and the worker does not experience any obvious symptoms that would indicate a more serious problem. If that is the case, the worker may not feel it necessary to report the incident to his or her employer. But if an injury worsens and the employee wants to claim workers’ compensation benefits, it may be difficult to provide records of the work-related injury.
Are there ways for employees to determine whether they have a brain injury? The military has actually developed a questionnaire that is intended to help soldiers determine whether they have suffered even a mild brain injury. For example, the questionnaire asks the test taker whether they experienced a loss of consciousness or dizziness.
While this test was developed for the military, could it be used in the workplace to identify mild brain injuries that otherwise would go undetected? When the military began to use this method of detecting injuries, there were twice as many brain injury diagnoses in a shorter period of time.
Even if the work accident did not seem serious at the time, head trauma could still result in a brain injury. If the injury forces the worker to take time off for recovery, having a record of the injury would make it easier to claim workers’ compensation. Not only that, but identification of an otherwise undetected brain injury could prevent further effects that could manifest in the future.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Military steps up effort to detect brain injuries,” Dan Elliott, Aug. 14, 2011.