Some jobs are associated with a known risk of exposure to explosions. Working in a chemical production facility or an oil refinery, for example, comes with a known degree of risk related to explosions. Other jobs, such as working at a granary, where flour dust is heavy in the air, could also come with an explosion risk. Anyone who handles fuel or drives could end up exposed to an explosion on the job as well.
Such incidents can cause severe injuries, but the worst injuries aren’t always obvious right after an explosion occurs. An explosion can potentially cause traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), which are largely invisible, as a result of one of the influencing factors briefly explored below. This is one of the primary reasons why it is so important for workers who have witnessed an explosion to seek medical attention – even if they feel fine. Their injuries could be “invisible” for a time after the accident and, if left untreated, could result in significant harm.
1. Shrapnel propelled by explosive force
People can suffer penetrating injuries during an explosion because of the small bits of debris that go flying through the air. If those tiny pieces of debris hit someone in the face or head, they could cause a TBI. Even small entry wounds might be a warning sign of items that have cut through or lodged in the skull that could cause damage to the brain.
2. Falls resulting from the explosion
The force of the explosion often knocks people backward, which can lead to them hitting their heads on the ground or equipment. Blunt force trauma is a serious concern if someone feels the physical consequences of the explosion or temporarily loses consciousness after the explosion. Falls are a leading cause of TBIs, and it would be easy to overlook such risk in the aftermath of an explosion at a job site.
3. The pressure of the explosion
Researchers have connected proximity to an explosion with internal injuries. Someone doesn’t need to hit their head on anything or get struck by shrapnel for the force of the explosion to potentially cause swelling or bruising of their brain. Anyone who is close to an explosion when it occurs could potentially have a brain injury, which might not produce any symptoms for several days or even weeks after the explosion.
Those who witness an explosion at work could end up seriously hurt as a result. Recognizing that someone is at elevated risk of a traumatic brain injury could help them take effective steps to secure a formal diagnosis and to get benefits through workers’ compensation with the assistance of an experienced legal professional.