Know your site and mark it well. Those two tips can help prevent plow drivers from ramming into hidden obstacles that could lead to whiplash, an injury that occurs from forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck.
Sudden changes in momentum (e.g. a plow moving forward and striking an unmarked curb or other barrier, moving in reverse and striking a light pole) can cause the head to whip too far forward and back straining the neck. This motion can injure bones in the spine, disks between the bones, ligaments, muscles, nerves and other tissues of the neck.
Whiplash symptoms can present differently given the variables involved: speed and direction of impact, physical condition of driver, age and sex of the driver, etc.
In the event of an accident, look for these signs and symptoms, some of which may not present themselves for days, weeks or even months after the incident:
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Worsening of pain with neck movement
- Loss of range of motion in the neck
- Headaches, most often starting at the base of the skull
- Tenderness or pain in shoulder, upper back or arms
- Tingling or numbness in the arms
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
Given that some symptoms may lie dormant, it’s important not to dismiss an on-site accident, even if it is low impact, minor damage. In the event of an incident, alert your supervisor, follow your company’s accident reporting protocols and seek immediate medical attention if you feel any pain in your head or neck, no matter how minor.
This article is informational in nature only and not intended as professional medical advice. In the event of an accident, seek medical assistance immediately. View all 2016 Snow Safety week articles and content here.