Depending on your occupation, you may be at a greater risk for severe burn injuries than others. A report published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) revealed around 5,000 American workers suffer burn injuries each year according to reports filed with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). Additionally, the American Burn Association reports 8% of all burn injuries treated annually across the country resulted from workplace accidents. Given the possibilities, it’s important for workers to understand the common causes of burn injuries and in which occupations workers are more susceptible to burn injuries and fatal accidents.
Types of Workplace Burns
The nature of a workplace burn injury will depend on the type of burns involved. Many assume workers not directly exposed to an open flame aren’t as susceptible to burn injury as those who are exposed to fire, such as firefighters or industrial workers like welders. The truth is, burn injuries can occur across industries and occupations. The most common types of workplace burn injuries are:
- Thermal Burns: These burns occur when the body is exposed to extreme heat. Exposure can come in various forms, including a hot liquid or scalding burn, exposure to a hot object, and exposure to an open fire or explosion.
- Chemical Burns: Chemical burns manifest through exposure to substances that can erode or eat away at the skin and deep tissue, including acids, alkaloids, and/or other corrosive materials. It is common for industrial workers to suffer chemical burns due to the frequency with which they handle hazardous materials.
- Electrical Burns: When an employee comes into contact with a high voltage of electrical power, he or she can suffer electrical burns. The electrical current can travel through the body and create a heat burn when coming in contact with tissue. OSHA cites workplace electrocutions as one of the construction industry’s “Fatal Four” – one of the four most common causes of fatalities in construction.
Types of Burns
Any degree of burn injury can cause extreme pain, loss of earnings, and the accrual of expensive medical bills. Burn incidents can be prevented if employers invest in worker safety measures. Burns are classified as first-, second-, third-, or fourth-degree depending on how deeply and severely they penetrate the skin’s surface.
First-degree burns are considered mild and usually only inflict superficial damage to the top layer of skin called the epidermis. The skin can be red and painful to the touch as with a mild sunburn.
Second-degree burns include reach beyond first-degree burns and damage the next layer of skin – the dermis – often blistering the skin, which becomes swollen, sore, painful, and uncomfortable.
Third-degree burns are more severe and can destroy the dermis and epidermis layers of skin as well as some of the tissue underneath. These severe burn injuries may reach the innermost layer of skin, the subcutaneous tissue. The burn site may look white or blackened and charred. Victims of third-degree burns often need skin grafts in order to repair the damaged skin and tissue.
Fourth-degree burns are the most severe of all burns. The burn destroys the skin, tissue, and can damage muscle as well. There is no feeling left in the burned area since the nerve endings are wiped out. Victims who suffer fourth-degree burns and survive may require amputation.
Workplace Accident Attorneys
Employers have a responsibility to provide adequate and quality safety training as well as personal protective equipment to protect vulnerable workers. Employers in industries with the potential for burns and/or fire hazards should follow federal safety guidelines for all employees. Employers should provide workers with fire protection gear and have a fire safety plan including exit routes, extinguishers, fire blankets, and other materials appropriate for extinguishing fires and mitigating burn injuries to employees.
Regardless of occupation, all workers have the right to a safe workplace. Burn injuries are not only excruciating but have an intense recovery period that often prevents an injured employee from returning to work. If you or a loved one has been burned in a workplace accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation. There is limited time to act following a workplace accident in Texas, so contact us today.