How Common Are Workplace Burn Injuries?
Burns are painful and can have long-lasting effects
Despite safety measures and precautions, burn injuries are a common type of injury in the workplace. Data published from the National Center for Biotechnology Information reports 42 percent of all work-related injuries involved workers getting burned.
Burn injuries can be painful and debilitating, but if you were burned while on the job, you have the right to seek workers' compensation benefits to help cover the cost of your medical expenses and a percentage of your lost wages.
Types of burns and burn severity
In the U.S., statistics show that more than 5,000 burn injuries are a result of work-related fires and explosions. The types of burns that workers can suffer include thermal, chemical, electrical, and burns due to sun exposure.
Burns are classified from least to most severe: first degree, second degree, third degree, and fourth degree.
- First-degree burns only affect the top layer of the skin (e.g., a mild sunburn). The burn site on the skin turns red and dry.
- Second-degree burns go beyond the top layer of skin and can leave the skin with blisters and the feeling of soreness.
- Third-degree burns destroy the epidermis and dermis, and they will appear white or charred. These burns can go deep enough into the skin to destroy tissue.
- Fourth-degree burns affect all layers of skin and can potentially damage bone, muscle, and tendons.
Preventing burn injuries at work
Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace environment, under OSHA regulations. A few ways employers can help provide and maintain a safe workplace include:
- Initial Training: One of the most important steps an employer can take is making sure employees have been trained properly. Training should cover all hazards that the employee might face on the worksite, including those that may result in a burn injury. Training should also include the specific job functions, in-depth safety training with machinery, chemicals and/or other hazards specific to the job.
- Refresher Training: Employers should regularly update training so that workers are up-to-date with changes and so that important concepts are fresh in their minds.
- Hazard Communication: Color codes, posters, labels, and signs are extremely important in burn prevention because they can warn employees of potential hazards. Workers should be trained on how to recognize them.
Can you sue for a burn injury?
If you were burned in a workplace accident, you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. In some burn injury cases, victims can pursue a separate third-party lawsuit that includes compensation for damages not covered by workers' comp, such as pain and suffering.
The key is to talk to a worker's compensation lawyer as soon as possible to learn your legal rights and options.
At Vellner Law, PC, our attorneys take pride in fighting for injured workers, and we know how to handle complicated cases. Contact us today for a free consultation. Our law firm serves Lehigh Valley and the surrounding area from our offices in Allentown and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.