Mind Matters: Understanding Concussions in Construction

According to recent studies presented by the CDC, construction workers are at a significantly higher risk of experiencing concussions compared to workers in other industries, making it a pressing concern that demands attention.

The construction industry is essential for infrastructure development, but the safety and well-being of its workforce are paramount. Understanding and preventing concussions on construction sites are vital for preserving the health of workers and ensuring a productive and efficient working environment for employers.

Understanding Concussions

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a sudden blow or jolt to the head, which results in the brain moving rapidly back and forth inside the skull. This movement can lead to chemical changes in the brain and temporary impairment of its normal functioning.

Construction sites are full of potential hazards that can cause concussions, including falling objects, slips, trips, and falls, being struck by heavy equipment, or collisions with other workers or structures.

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Signs and Symptoms of Concussions

Workers should be aware and on the lookout for common signs and symptoms of concussions, such as headaches, dizziness, confusion, memory problems, sensitivity to light or noise, nausea, and changes in mood or behavior. Prompt recognition of these indicators is crucial for early intervention.

1. Headaches: One of the most prevalent and immediate symptoms of a concussion is a persistent headache. Workers should pay attention to any unusual or intense headaches, especially if they occur shortly after a fall, collision, or other potential head injury on the construction site.

2. Dizziness and Balance Issues: Feeling dizzy or off-balance, even without apparent reasons like dehydration or fatigue, can be a warning sign of a concussion. Workers experiencing sudden bouts of dizziness should take it seriously and seek medical attention.

3. Confusion and Disorientation: Concussions can disrupt cognitive function, leading to confusion and disorientation. Workers may have difficulty recalling recent events or feel mentally foggy. If a colleague exhibits signs of confusion after an accident, it is essential to ensure they receive a medical evaluation.

4. Memory Problems: Difficulty remembering recent events or experiencing gaps in memory (amnesia) is another red flag. Workers who cannot recall how an injury occurred or have trouble remembering details of the incident should be evaluated promptly.

5. Sensitivity to Light or Noise: Concussions may cause increased sensitivity to light (photophobia) or noise (phonophobia). Workers who find themselves more sensitive to their environment after a potential head injury should report this symptom to their supervisor and seek medical advice.

6. Nausea and Vomiting: Feeling nauseous or vomiting after a head injury can be indicative of a concussion. If a worker experiences these symptoms along with other signs of a concussion, they should be taken seriously and assessed by medical professionals.

7. Changes in Mood or Behavior: Concussions can influence a person’s emotional state and behavior. Workers may become irritable, anxious, or exhibit uncharacteristic mood swings. Such changes are significant indicators that should not be ignored.

Prompt recognition of these signs and symptoms is crucial for early intervention and proper management of concussions. If any worker sustains a head injury or experiences the above symptoms, it is essential to remove them from potentially hazardous tasks immediately and have them evaluated by a medical professional. Early diagnosis and appropriate care can prevent further complications and ensure a safe and healthy recovery for those affected. Safety protocols on construction sites should always prioritize the health and well-being of their workers, especially when it comes to potential head injuries like concussions.

understanding concussions in construction

Ignoring or Neglecting a Concussion and the Long-Term Effects

When a concussion goes unnoticed or is not properly addressed, it can lead to a cascade of serious long-term consequences that impact a person’s physical, cognitive, and emotional well-being. Here are some of the potential complications that can arise from neglecting a concussion:

1. Cognitive Impairments: Untreated concussions can result in cognitive impairments, affecting a person’s ability to think clearly, concentrate, and process information. This may interfere with their work performance, decision-making abilities, and overall cognitive function.

2. Memory Deficits: Memory problems are a common consequence of untreated concussions. Workers may struggle with short-term memory, making it challenging to recall instructions, tasks, or critical safety procedures on the construction site.

3. Chronic Headaches: Headaches that persist long after the initial injury can become chronic. These headaches can be severe, recurrent, and debilitating, impacting the worker’s daily life and ability to perform their job effectively.

4. Increased Risk of Depression and Anxiety: Concussions have been linked to an increased risk of developing mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Persistent symptoms and the challenges of coping with the aftermath of a head injury can take a toll on a worker’s emotional well-being.

5. Post-Concussion Syndrome (PCS): Some individuals may develop post-concussion syndrome, a condition where concussion symptoms persist for weeks or even months after the injury. PCS can significantly disrupt a worker’s life, causing ongoing pain, cognitive difficulties, and emotional distress.

6. Reduced Quality of Life: Neglecting a concussion can lead to a reduced quality of life for the affected worker. Chronic pain, cognitive difficulties, and emotional struggles can impact their ability to engage in daily activities, hobbies, and social interactions.

7. Delayed Recovery: Without proper care, the recovery process from a concussion may be prolonged or stalled. Timely intervention and appropriate management are vital for ensuring a smoother and faster recovery.

To decrease these potential complications and ensure workers’ overall well-being, timely and appropriate care for concussions is essential. Immediate assessment and diagnosis by medical professionals can guide the implementation of appropriate treatment plans, rest protocols, and rehabilitation strategies. Additionally, providing support and understanding in the workplace during the recovery period can significantly contribute to the worker’s physical and emotional healing.


The impact of concussions in the construction industry is a pressing concern that demands immediate attention. With construction workers facing a higher risk of experiencing concussions compared to other industries, it is crucial to understand the potential hazards and implement preventive measures. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of concussions is essential to ensure early intervention and proper management. Prompt action not only safeguards the health and well-being of workers but also positively impacts productivity and efficiency on construction sites. Contact WorkSafe today for our concussion management program.

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