Everything you need to know about workers’ comp benefits after a scald burn at work
Scald burns are a type of serious injury that can be catastrophic in nature, requiring significant medical care and time to heal. A scald injury is often more than just a simple burn. It can negatively impact the rest of a person’s life and may even make it difficult to return to work.
Fortunately, most workers in Georgia who are injured in scald burn accidents at work are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages while they recover.
What’s the difference between a scald and a burn?
A scald is often mistaken for a traditional burn injury, but there is a difference. Where a burn is caused by dry heat from fire or a hot object, a scald is caused by wet heat from substances such as steam, hot water or oil. Both injuries are extremely painful and require immediate medical care.
What are the 4 categories of scald or boiling water burns?
Scalds, or hot water burns, are very painful and leave the skin tender and sensitive. Depending on the severity of the damage, there are 4 categories of these types of burns:
- Superficial epidermal burns. These only affect the outer layer of the skin (epidermis). Pain, redness and swelling are common.
- Superficial dermal burns. These affect the first and second layers of the skin (epidermis and dermis). Nerve endings, hair follicles and blood vessels are affected by this category of scald burn. Pain, pale pinkish skin and mild blistering can occur.
- Deep dermal or partial thickness burns. These burns also impact the first 2 layers of the skin. However, the damage is more severe and either causes extreme pain or a lack of pain or sensation. They may also be accompanied by red skin, swelling and blistering.
- Full-thickness burns. These burns are the most serious. All 3 layers of the skin are affected (epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous), and a person with this injury needs immediate medical attention. The skin texture can change and become waxy or burn away, causing severe damage to the nerves and underlying tissue.
Work hazards that increase the likelihood of scalds at work
Certain hazards on the job can raise the likelihood of scalds in the workplace. They include the following:
- Stove tops. Even if a spill doesn’t occur, workers who cook or are around pots of boiling hot water, oils and other liquids are at risk of scald burns.
- Microwaves. The temperature of microwave steam can be 200 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. As a result, opening a container that comes out of a microwave could potentially cause scald burns.
- Deep fryers. Workers who regularly use or are around deep fryers face the risk of sustaining scalds from oil.
- Pressure cooking equipment. Pressure cookers and similar equipment also increase the likelihood of scald burns on the job. A worker can suffer a burn if they open a cooker prematurely or if equipment explodes.
- Hot liquid containers. Carrying containers of hot liquids is risky, as the steam can cause scald burns.
- Fall hazards. Accidents that cause workers to slip and fall can cause scald burns if they reach out to break their fall and knock over a pot or other vessel filled with hot liquids.
Which workers have the highest risk of scald burns?
Workers in certain industries or job roles are more susceptible to scald burns. Some common examples of workers who are at a higher risk of scald burns include the following:
- Restaurant and fast food workers who handle hot liquids, cooking equipment and boiling water
- Coffee shop workers and flight attendants who work with espresso machines, steamers and hot water dispensers
- Factory workers in manufacturing, chemical plants or industrial settings where hot liquids or steam may be present
- Health care workers, like nurses, doctors, and other health care professionals, who deal with hot fluids or equipment during procedures or patient care
- Cleaners and janitors who use hot water for sanitation purposes
- Hospitality workers, like housekeepers, laundry personnel, food service and room service workers, who are exposed to scalding water while cleaning, handling laundry, or preparing and delivering food
- Construction workers who work with hot materials or operate machinery that involves hot liquids or steam, such as asphalt work or boiler installations
- Maintenance and repair technicians responsible for maintaining, repairing or installing equipment that involves hot fluids or steam, such as boilers or HVAC systems
It’s important for workers in these industries to follow proper safety protocols, receive appropriate training and use protective equipment to minimize the risk of scald burns.
What is the treatment for scalds?
Getting immediate first aid for burns is essential after any scald injury. The first thing you should do is remove yourself from the heat source to prevent the burn from worsening. Run cool water over the affected area for around 20 minutes, but avoid using ice, an ice pack or ice water.
If your burn is very large, don’t submerge it in cool water, as it can actually worsen your injury. Remove clothing and jewelry from the affected area to allow your skin’s temperature to lower and give it room to swell, which is something that naturally occurs. Leave any objects stuck to the burn where they are; removing them can cause more damage to the skin.
Cover your scald burn with a clean cloth or moist bandage to protect the skin. If you can, elevate the affected area above your heart and avoid breaking any blisters.
How long do scald burns last?
Depending on the severity of the injury, scald burns can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks to heal. For more serious burns, it can even be months before you fully recover, and even then, you may be left with significant scarring and a loss of sensation in the affected area.
When should I go to the ER for a scald?
Any scald burns that are larger than 3 inches, cover the hands, face or joints, or result in little pain or no sensation should be considered emergency situations that require treatment in an ER. If your skin is leathery, dry and white, yellow, brown or black in color, you also need immediate medical attention.
Seeking immediate medical care for severe burns can help prevent infection and ultimately save your life.
What are some potential long-term consequences of a serious scald injury?
Serious scald injuries can be catastrophic and lead to life-altering consequences. Depending on the severity, you may no longer be able to perform your regular job duties or return to work.
Extensive burn treatment and even skin graft surgery may be necessary for catastrophic scald burns. These burns can also lead to complications like infections, organ damage and other problems that can potentially result in death.
Other consequences of these injuries are severe scarring and disfigurement. Victims can also suffer severe emotional and psychological trauma, like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the aftermath.
Are workers who get a scald burn eligible for workers’ comp benefits in Georgia?
In Georgia, most employers with 3 or more employees are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance to cover their workers in the event of an on-the-job injury or illness. Freelance workers, independent contractors, and certain workers like farm laborers and domestic housekeepers typically don’t qualify.
Workers’ comp is no-fault insurance, which means that in most cases, employees are eligible for benefits even if they accidentally caused their own injury, as long as the injury occurred within the “course and scope” of their jobs.
What workers’ comp benefits are available to injured workers?
Workers who sustain scald injuries can receive the following workers’ compensation benefits:
- Medical benefits. These benefits will pay for all necessary medical treatment and supplies, including doctor’s appointments, surgeries, medication, rehabilitation and travel expenses.
- Income benefits. Workers can recover income benefits equal to two-thirds of their average weekly wage if they have to miss time from work to recover.
- Death benefits. Death benefits are paid to the spouse and surviving children of workers who die from their injuries and include compensation for funeral expenses and lost income.
What steps do workers need to take to file a workers’ comp claim in Georgia?
There are steps workers need to take when filing a workers’ compensation claim in Georgia. They include the following:
- Seek medical attention. You need immediate medical attention for a scald burn injury. You may be required by your employer to see a doctor from an approved list. However, in an emergency, you can go to the nearest facility for treatment.
- Notify your employer. Immediately notify your employer of your accident and injuries. You should do this in writing within 30 days, but doing so earlier is even better.
- File a workers’ comp claim. After any injury, you must file Form WC-14 with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.
- Contact an attorney. If you want help with your claim or your claim is denied by your employer’s workers’ comp insurer, contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to help protect your rights.
Contact an Atlanta work injury attorney for help with your claim
Due to the serious nature of scald burn injuries, it’s highly recommended that you enlist the help of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney after an injury that requires you to take time off from work. Scald burns often require extensive medical treatment, and it’s critical to seek the advice of an attorney about potential ongoing medical costs to ensure you get maximum compensation for your claim.
If you’ve been injured in a scald burn accident or any other kind of workplace accident in Georgia, contact the experienced Atlanta worker injury attorneys at Gerber & Holder Workers’ Compensation Attorneys today.
Our attorneys have over 75 years of combined experience helping injured workers across Georgia recover maximum compensation after an injury. We’re here for you and ready to fight for the compensation you deserve.