Concussions are a common form of head injury and lead to a significant amount of worker’s compensation issues annually. Concussions can lead to missed time, light-duty considerations or limitations to regular duties, and considerable medical care needs. While a significant amount of research includes studies on head injuries and concussions in athletes in recent years, concussions are also a common workplace injury. If an employee is injured, it is critical to determine the need for care quickly; however, head injuries can be tricky to assess. If not treated correctly and promptly, concussions may lead to long-term issues that may lead to additional concerns in the workplace. Key severity indicators can present at the onset of the incident or may develop over a short period.

Supervisors can keep a few details in mind to help triage the injury and consider when to seek medical advice:

The cause of the injury is a crucial piece to document in an incident report, as knowing how an incident impacted the head can provide insight into treatment methods. Typically considered a bump on the head, concussions stem from various forms of trauma to the brain, including a direct impact to the head and rapid changes in speed or direction of the head that may cause the brain to jostle inside the skull, such as whiplash. Work injuries can result from common on-site hazards such as falls, vehicle accidents, or any forceful impact. A victim of a head injury does not always lose consciousness. A concussion can occur without regard to the conscious state of the victim or external signs of impact such as bleeding.

Symptoms of a concussion can vary by cause and patient. Here are some signs to look for when assessing a head injury:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Vision disturbance such as blurry or double vision
  • Dizziness or imbalance
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Memory Loss
  • Ringing ears
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Longer-term signs include
  • Difficulty remembering or learning new information
  • Fatigue, low energy, or a feeling of moving in slow motion
  • Moodiness or irritability
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping more than usual\

Most people recover quickly from a knock to the head, but supervisors should watch employees as they recover. Seek medical advice after an onsite head injury if they notice signs of a concussion:

  • Headache worsens or will not go away
  • Slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
  • Significant nausea or repeated vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Inability to wake up
  • Symptoms have worsened over any given time
  • Symptoms persist after 10-14 days
  • A history of additional concussions

Injuries on the job are always a top concern for supervisors and managers, but careful documentation and attention to symptoms can help assess the need for medical intervention.

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