Burns can be among the most painful, debilitating, and costly of all workplace injuries. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), more than 5,000 workers are hospitalized each year after suffering a burn at work, and 200 of them die from their injuries. If you experience a serious burn on the job that forces you to take time off work and seek medical treatment, you may be eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits to ease the financial hardship.
What types of burn injuries occur in the workplace?
There are three distinct types of burns that commonly happen at work:
Thermal burns A thermal burn is caused by coming in contact with a flame, explosion, steam, or boiling liquid. Touching hot tools, industrial machinery, or other work equipment can also cause a thermal burn.
Chemical burns A chemical burn occurs when a worker’s skin, eyes, ears or internal organs come in contact with a synthetic, corrosive chemical or gas. Common substances include acids, bases, oxidizers, thinning agents, cleaners and solvents.
Electrical burns An electrical burn occurs when a worker comes in contact with an electrical current or spark. This may happen if the worker touches a functioning socket or wire, falls into electrified water or is struck by lightning.
If you suffer a burn of any kind at work, notify your supervisor and call for medical assistance immediately. Depending on the severity of your burn, you may be able to treat yourself until help arrives.
Burns are classified according to their severity
1) A first-degree burn only damages the outermost layer of the skin. This type of burn is the least serious and can usually be treated with an antiseptic ointment and a bandage. Symptoms include redness, pain and general discomfort.
2) A second-degree burn causes similar symptoms but is a bit more serious than a first-degree burn. It affects the both the outer layer and the second layer of the skin. Second-degree burns can result in blisters and scarring.
3) The damage caused by a third-degree burn extends beyond the skin to affect the fatty layer that lies beneath. This is where nerve damage can occur. In addition to medical care, third-degree burn victims usually need narcotic pain medication to manage their symptoms.
4) A fourth degree burn is the most serious type of burn injury. Not only does it destroy the skin, nerves and fatty tissue, it penetrates deep into the body to damage muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones. This type of burn is often deadly.
Who is at risk for a burn injury?
While firefighters may seem like the most likely candidates for burn injuries, they represent a small amount of the many workers at risk. Anyone who works around an open flame or hot tools, equipment and machinery is at risk for a thermal burn, including chefs, welders, mechanics, and laborers. Chemical burns are common in those who work in mining, medicine, and chemical plant operations. Any worker can suffer an electrical burn by coming in contact with equipment with faulty wires or by touching an electrical socket with damp hands.
While some occupations pose a higher risk for burn injuries, any employee can suffer a burn on the job. If it happens to you, knowing your rights under workers’ compensation will be crucial to your recovery and financial future.
Does your burn injury qualify for workers’ compensation?
If you have suffered a burn at work, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits that will pay for your medical and rehabilitation bills, out-of-pocket expenses, and a portion of your lost wages. If a burn has left you permanently disabled and unable to return to your former job, you may receive additional compensation for your injuries. Regardless of the severity of your burn, dealing with the complexities of a workers’ compensation case is the last thing you need as you start on the long road to recovery.
At the Law Offices of Gerald D. Brody & Associates, we can help alleviate the stress of filing for workers’ compensation by organizing your paperwork, gathering the required evidence, identifying expert witnesses, and building a strong case in your defense. We fight for the rights of injured workers every day, and we would consider it an honor to do the same for you. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.