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Managing the Challenges of Head Trauma in the Workplace

When we think of injury, we often think of something that may occur to us by an external force, such as a car accident or a malfunctioning piece of equipment. It’s not every day that we associate it with something that we can’t see. Head trauma is a type of hidden injury that’s difficult to notice and assess, and yet, is quite common. In fact, one in three Canadians is directly impacted by brain injury in some way, and those who have been impacted once are three times more likely to experience a second brain injury. 

So how does this impact our ability to work?

Types of Head Injuries

Most head injuries are not apparent and can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks for us to notice or detect that something isn’t right. Depending on the level of severity of the injury, you may experience different symptoms. 

  • Mild head injuries such as whiplashes may cause a dull headache, bruising, bleeding, mild dizziness and nausea. Rest and medical care are required, and employees should be slowly integrated back into the workplace based on the severity of the trauma. 
  • Moderate head injuries such as concussions are a little more concerning as some symptoms can intensify over time. Symptoms include fainting, vomiting, temporary changes in behaviour, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, memory loss, poor balance or coordination, and overall confusion. Concussions can begin to alter our mental state of mind, causing our thought process to change and become irregular. It can be difficult to notice these changes as they can occur gradually. Concussion victims should be monitored and assessed by medical care professionals to ensure that proper forms of treatment are utilized.
  • Severe head injuries and their effects can typically be seen due to their extremity. Seizures, clear fluid or blood coming out of ears or nose, bruises behind the ears, slurred speech, and weakness or numbness are only a few of the symptoms that may occur. Individuals must consult a medical care professional to ensure they are taking the appropriate steps in integrating themselves back into a full schedule of work and activities throughout the healing process. 

Regardless of its intensity, head injuries can require employees to remove themselves from the workplace to heal properly and to ensure that any residual effects do not compromise safety within the workplace. Individuals may be required to take several weeks, months, or even a year off of work to maintain their health and wellness.

Determining Fitness to Work

Head injuries will likely require the individual to undergo diagnostic imaging in order to determine their fitness level to work. However, wait times for these diagnostic images can be long. In fact, Canadian general practitioners reported that 40% of their patients often had difficulty receiving specialized diagnostic imaging tests, which is significantly higher than the international average of 20%. Through educating employees about the impact of head trauma, and implementing safety procedures within the workplace, you can help to reduce the chance of head trauma from occurring.

At SureHire, we work with you to navigate the various methods of diagnostic imaging to ensure your employees have access to the correct medical assessments. If you’re unsure of the type of diagnostic imaging your team requires, contact us today. We will work with you to help determine an employee’s fitness to work and provide the necessary information to help you reintroduce employees back into their roles as needed.

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