Head injuries are a serious matter on any construction site. Hard hats offer protection but are not always worn.
The threat of falling construction materials is always present, and head injuries can happen to pedestrians as well as laborers.
A scaffolding incident in SoHo
If you are a resident of New York City, you may recall a scaffolding incident in 2017 in which six people sustained injuries. In November of that year, wind gusts up to 35 mph created construction hazards; the scaffolding on one job in the Soho district collapsed. The accident happened shortly before noon and first responders said it was fortunate that because the scaffolding fell over the subway entrance, no train had arrived. If one had, more pedestrians may have sustained injuries. As it was, one woman was walking past the construction area and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. She suffered a head injury when the scaffolding came down on top of her. An official from the New York City Fire Department explained that the wind gusts picked up a piece of plywood that “acted like a sail.” This was what brought the scaffolding crashing down. The injured woman was one of six people taken to the hospital that day.
Headgear for workers
Construction accidents can happen in a heartbeat. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 84% of all construction workers who suffer on-the-job head injuries are not wearing any head protection. Workers often remove their hard hats because they are too heavy, too hot or too uncomfortable because they do not fit properly. Newer hard hat models have four- and six-point strap suspension design to better distribute the weight. Employers have a duty to educate workers about the importance of head protection and to train employees in proper equipment use and maintenance.
Falls are the main cause of traumatic brain injury; falls and construction work, unfortunately, go together. As the 2017 Soho incident illustrates, falling debris can also cause serious injuries, including concussion and more severe forms of TBI. The female victim was an innocent pedestrian and could not prevent suffering a head injury, but alert construction workers can follow safety precautions, including wearing protective hard hats.