I was seriously burned at work. What’s next?
Even in the most modern and safe workplaces, severe burn injuries can happen. The seriousness of a burn depends upon the victim’s age, overall health, size and depth of burn, and the location of the burn.
Fire safety and burn prevention should be taken seriously by both employees and employers alike. But as the old saying goes, accidents happen — and when they do, you need to know what to do first (seek treatment) and then understand your rights (talk to Gerber-Holder Law). Employers who neglect to follow important safety requirements should be made to answer for workers’ loss, pain and suffering.
If you or a loved one recently suffered a burn injury at work, we can help you navigate the workers’ compensation process. At Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys, our experienced Atlanta workers’ compensation attorneys will fight to get you the full compensation you deserve.
Don’t take your employer at their word if they say your workplace injury isn’t covered.
Contact us today for your free consultation.
Types of burns
- First-degree burns: These types of burns damage the skin’s top layer. While they can often be treated at home, sometimes medical attention is needed.
- Second-degree burns: These burns cause damage to the first and second layer of skin. Due to being a deeper type of burn, seeking professional hospital treatment is recommended.
- Third-degree burns: Burns of this magnitude cause damage to all layers of the skin, including to the tissues below the skin. Hospital treatment is necessary and victims often suffer long-term physical pain and permanent skin damage.
- Fourth-degree burns: These injuries encompass all of the burns described above but also include damage to ligaments, tendons, muscles and bones. These are very serious burns that can require months of treatment and permanent scarring/disfigurement.
- Chemical and caustic burns: These burns can occur from exposure to industrial cleaners, acids, alkaloids, or a myriad of chemicals in gas, liquid or solid forms.
- Cryogenic (cold) burns: These burns happen when the body is exposed to cold and/or windy conditions. They can also occur if a person touches something kept at an extremely low temperature.
- Electrical burns: These burns are caused by exposure to electrical sources such as when a worker is handling live wiring, accidental discharge from an electricity storing device or even when hit by lightning while on the job. These can cause tissue damage beyond what’s visible on the skin, so seeking immediate medical attention is recommended.
- Friction burns: These occur from body contact with hard surfaces. Common types of friction burns include rope burns, road rash or rug burns.
- Radiological (or sun) burns: These burns can be generated by exposure to UV lights, sun lamps, x-rays or the sun itself. These can affect workers who are outside for long hours or those working in the tanning/radiological industries.
- Thermal burns: These are caused by steam, fire and hot liquids — basically any burn that results from being exposed to heat.
Workplace burn injury statistics
According to the American Burn Association, which has analysed workplace burn injuries over a 10-year period, 44% of burns were caused by fire or flame exposure, with another 9% caused by contact with a heat source. A further 4% were categorized as electrical burns, and 3% were reported as chemical burns.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says “explosions and fires” were responsible for 2,200 work-related injuries and 143 deaths in 2011 alone. Often, the majority of these injuries are preventable.
An estimated 6% of all reported burns are due to occupational injuries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also discovered that, on average, workers miss 5 days of work due to heat burns and 3 days of work due to chemical burns.
Here are some other statistics about workplace burn injuries from a study published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website:
- During the time period studied, 3,896 patients with acute burns were admitted, of whom 2,510 were between 18 and 64 years of age. Among these cohorts, 384 patients (15%) sustained their burns at work.
- Males accounted for the majority of work-related burns (90%).
- The racial distribution was found to be 60% Caucasian, 31% African American, 7% Hispanic, and 1% other.
- Industrial plants accounted for 29% of cases, followed by activities related to food preparation (15%), working in electrical companies and stores (15%), and working in automotive servicing shops or due to motor-vehicle accidents (13%).
- Categorizing by burn type, hot water and grease scalds accounted for 37% of all work-related burns, followed by thermal burns (26%), chemical burns (16%), and electric burns (11%). Chemical, electric, and friction burns accounted for 60% of all smaller burns.
Where burn injuries happen
(Most at-risk industries & occupations)
Occupations most at risk to burn hazards include:
- Landscape and outdoor workers
- Healthcare workers
- Food prep workers (such as servers, cooks and chefs)
Another job that’s at high risk for burns are restaurant fry cooks, especially new hires and teenagers. In that industry, the need to keep up with food rush periods and staff inexperience using industrial fryers put those folks at substantial risk.
Burn safety in the workplace (prevention tips)
One of the most important pieces of safety equipment that all businesses should have are fire extinguishers — and a lot of them! Chemical protective clothing should be available for employees to wear if they’re working around hazardous chemicals. Overhead sprinkler systems should be installed and tested yearly. Where necessary, Total Flood Carbon Dioxide fire extinguishing systems should also be installed.
Continue reading: To find out more on how fires can be avoided, check out OSHA’s Fire Safety page. Often, just making a few simple environmental and behavioral changes can reduce burn accidents and even save lives.
Types of injuries covered by Georgia workers’ compensation claims
Workers’ compensation for burn injuries at work
Injuries that happen after a serious encounter with any of the burn types listed above can mean months (or even years) of costly treatment and rehabilitation. Medical expenses alone can amount to more than six figures — not accounting for lost wages. Some victims may never return to full-time or part-time employment for the rest of their lives.
Under Georgia workers’ compensation system, your employer is obligated to pay for your medical expenses and lost wages arising from a work-related burn injury — regardless of whose fault it was. Unfortunately, not all businesses and insurance companies want to play the rules. Some try to minimize a worker’s pain by saying a burn injury isn’t that serious or refusing to pay the full cost to get you back on your feet.
If this happens to you or a loved one, it’s time to talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer at Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys.
Our record of winning accident cases in Georgia speaks for itself:
Contact an Atlanta workers’ compensation attorney today
If you or a loved one has been injured by any type of burn while on the job, seek medical help immediately. Having a way to document what happened, including hospital records, can greatly increase your odds of winning compensation from your employer. Once you’ve sought treatment, contact us to find out if you have a case and learn more about workers’ compensation.
Our Atlanta attorneys are national leaders in workers’ compensation litigation with over 75 years of experience. Insurance companies have skilled attorneys representing them, and so should you. Best of all, you don’t have to pay us a penny unless we win your case, so there’s no cost to learning about your rights.