New Hard Hat Technology Offers Added Protection Against Brain Injuries
September 16, 2022
Hard hats were invented just over 100 years ago, and it is safe to say that the technology has not changed that drastically in the last 50 to 60 years – until now. A hard hat is a type of helmet that is typically used in workplace environments to protect the head from injury due to falling objects, debris, rain, and even electric shock. Although research shows that most modern-day hard hats are adequate at protecting the head from direct impact, like when an object falls from above, they do not provide enough protection when the hit comes at an angle. This is why a biomechanics lab teamed up with an orthopedic surgeon to design a new generation of hard hats that not only guard against direct impact hits, but that absorb rotational force as well.
General Information on Occupational Concussions
Approximately one in four mild traumatic brain injuries occur at work. This type of injury is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. When this sudden movement occurs, it can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, leading to chemical changes and stretching and damage to the brain cells. In an occupational setting, the most common causes for concussions are slips, trips and falls, falls from height (or falls that occur after landing on the ground from a higher place, like a ladder, scaffold, roof, or building), being struck by an object, and motor vehicle collisions.
Some signs and symptoms that are commonly associated with concussions include:
- Different sized pupils
- Convulsions or seizures
- Confusion or difficulty with recognizing people or places
- Restlessness and/or agitation
- Unusual behavior
- Loss of consciousness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Seeing stars or lights
- Blurred or double vision
- Slurred speech
- Balance problems
- Sensitivity to light and/or noise
In serious yet rare cases, a blood clot that puts pressure against the brain from the skull can develop. Because of how serious even mild traumatic brain injuries can be, medical attention is necessary. If you suspect that you or a coworker has sustained a concussion at work, stop working right away, contact the supervisor, and seek medical attention immediately.
The Future of Hard Hat Technology
So far, there are two companies that offer hard hats equipped with the technology to protect workers from direct impact hits in addition to rotational force injuries. While direct object hits from above are certainly a source of occupational concussions, the leading cause are falls, which often make the head or neck tip or turn suddenly. Past research on mild traumatic brain injuries has shown that oblique impact, or impact occurring at an angle, causes a typical hard hat (along with the wearer’s head inside of it) to move violently. When this type of concerted rotational force occurs, the brain is particularly susceptible to sustaining a traumatic injury.
The creators of the new hard hat technology said that unlike typical hard hats, which act as the protective egg shell around the yolk, their hard hats contain a protective liner that they modeled in a honeycomb structure that behaves similarly to sand. The structure, they say, does not impart spin to the wearer’s head when an impact occurs; instead, it breaks the spin (and thus allows for less violent, sudden movement of the head) while simultaneously absorbing force. An independent study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) found that bicycle helmets with this technology were better than traditional bike helmets at decreasing rotational force.
Did You Sustain a Brain Injury at Work?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide a safe and healthy work environment that is free from recognizable hazards. Part of this responsibility is to provide workers with adequate and effective PPE, or personal protective equipment, which includes hard hats. Under federal law, every worker is entitled to a safe workplace, though far too often irresponsible and unethical employers cut corners to save costs and put worker’s lives at risk. When employers fail to prioritize safety and comply with federal regulations, innocent people pay the price.
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that provides wage replacement and medical benefits to injured workers. If you were injured in a workplace-related incident and you would like to learn more about how you can file a workers’ compensation claim to help you and your loved ones pay for time out of work and ongoing medical care, someone at our firm can help. To learn more, contact a representative online now.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP, Representing Injured Victims Since 1947
If you have a question about filing a legal claim, contact the Philadelphia workers’ compensation lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP today. Call us at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Allentown and Harrisburg.