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Articles Posted in Burns

Certain work environments in Massachusetts that are predisposed to a higher risk of burn injuries. These include construction sites, chemical plants, and factories. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), about 5,000 burn injuries are suffered annually due to workplace fires and explosions. Read on for more information about the various types of workplace burns, and how you can dramatically reduce your risk of this type of injury.

Types of Workplace Burns

Workplace burns typically fall into one of three categories: thermal, chemical, or electrical.

Anybody who has experienced a mild to severe burn can attest to the fact that the pain from a burn is unlike any other kind of pain. You can run it under a cold tap or press an ice pack to it, but you know this is only a tiny and temporary relief. For the most serious of burns, pain may not be an issue due to the nerves being permanently destroyed, but amputation of the burned area is almost certain.  In the United States, unlike some developing parts of the world, burns are easily preventable and survivable. According to the American Burn Association, over 96 percent of burn victims admitted to burn trauma units in 2015 survived their injuries. Of these burns, the vast majority (73 percent) occurred at home. The next leading place of occurrence was at their workplace (8 percent).

Workplace burns can happen from multiple causes, from something as simple as a boiling liquid splashing or spilling to something less expected like maintaining contact with something severely cold or doing work outside – even on a cloudy day – without any protective clothing or sunscreen. Burns can range in severity, from non-serious superficial burns to life-threatening, full-thickness burns that cause permanent bodily damage.

Types of workplace burns

Thermal burns

 Thermal burns are what most people think of when they imagine a typical burn. They can happen from hot or boiling liquids (known as being scalded), open flames or areas of severely high temperature (such as heat escaping from an oven), hot surfaces and explosions. Thermal burns are normally entirely controllable, and can be prevented by wearing protective clothing when near the potentially-dangerous area.

Chemical burns

A chemical burn occurs when a human makes contact with a strong acid, alkaloid, corrosive or caustic material. Chemical burns are notoriously nasty since they can cause permanent and severe damage to soft tissue, especially if the material makes contact with a human eye. Workers most at risk for chemical burns are those that work in industrial fields, especially ones that work with high-strength cleaners or chemicals.  All potentially-dangerous materials should always be properly identified and workers should always wear proper protection when dealing with these types of materials.

Electrical burns

Electrocution from high-voltage sources causes electricity to travel through the body. As the electricity experiences resistant from the tissue, it causes heat and results in electrical burns. Areas of high electricity should always be properly-identified.

Sun exposure burns

Though workers who often work outside may scoff at the notion, repeated and prolonged sun exposure can result in serious burns. Employees working outside should always wear clothing, sunglasses, and headwear that cuts down on direct contact with the sun. Continue reading

Welding is an occupation with a higher-than-average risk of serious injury. Welding accidents in Massachusetts can result in burns, loss of vision, respiratory problems, and even death. According to the Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA), four out of every one-thousand welders will die from a welding-related injury. Most welding accidents occur at automotive, marine, and construction job sites. These industries are much more likely to use welding than others. If you’ve suffered a welding-related injury, the skilled workers’ compensation team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help.

Common Welding-Related Injuries

Welding injuries can range from minor burns to death. Below are some of the most common injuries reported by Massachusetts welders.

  • Burns: Welding involves the melting of metals and, therefore, requires the use of extremely high temperatures. For this reason, burns are common injuries suffered by welders. Minor burns are quite common, but severe burns can result in disfigurement, debilitating pain, time off work, and even death. In addition to direct burns to the skin, welding can also lead to widespread fires when sparks created during the welding process cause workshop fires. This is especially dangerous when flammable materials, such as oil soaked rags, are present. There are two types of welding: arc welding and traditional welding. Both have a high risk of fire and burn injuries.
  • Injuries from toxic fumes: When metal is exposed to extreme heat, it begins to melt. During the conversion process from solid to liquid, gasses are released into the air. These gasses can be damaging if inhaled; injuries can be suffered immediately or over a prolonged period of time. In addition to causing respiratory problems, the gasses can also cause severe damage to the eyes. Eye injuries can still occur when protective eyewear is worn.
  • Injuries to the eyes: Many welders who have been in the industry for a long period of time begin to develop vision problems. Maintaining a steady focus on the bright lights and sparks emitted during the welding process can cause severe damage to the eyes.
  • Respiratory complications: Gasses emitted during the welding process can be toxic, and many of these gasses have the potential to cause short term and long term damage.
  • In addition to the above injuries, welding also comes with the risk of electric shock and hearing loss. Protective gear and adequate training can dramatically reduce the risk of serious injury and death from welding-related accidents. However, this occupation comes with inherent risks. If you have developed any of these injuries or health complications as a result of welding, contact a Boston work injury lawyer today.

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The World Health Organization estimates that 265,000 deaths are caused by burns annually, mainly occurring in the home and workplace.  According to the American Burn Association, there were 486,000 burn injuries that required medical treatment in 2016.  Annually, the American Burn Association estimates 3,400 U.S. burn injury deaths in the United States.  Of these, 2,550 result from residential/workplace fires, 300 result from vehicle crash fires, and the remaining 550 result from various causes, such as flames, smoke inhalation, scalding, and electricity.  In terms of the cost for burn injuries and deaths, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that males account for $4.8 billion, or 64 percent, of total fire and burn-related costs annually, while females account for the remaining $2.7 billion, or 36 percent.  Injuries sustained from burns, whether heat, electrical, radiation, friction, or chemical burns, happen far too often and cost far too much money for accidents that are avoidable most of the time.

According to the Burn Foundation, the Food Service Industry experiences the highest number of burns among all employment sectors, about 12,000 burns annually.  Many jobs involved in the Food Service Industry, including cooks, food handlers, kitchen works, and waiters, are among the top 50 professions at risk for on-the-job injury.  The majority of people who need to be hospitalized for burns sustained in the workplace work in the food preparation industry.  Teenagers working at fast food restaurants as fry cooks are at a higher risk, often because they are not adequately trained or have little experience.  For those working in the food industry, there are some simple ways that you can protect yourself from severe burns while on the job.  Be sure to wear protective gloves when touching hot pots or cooking with a deep fryer.  Wear shoes that have traction to avoid slipping on wet or greasy floors.  Extinguish hot oil or grease fires by covering the pot or container with a lid.  Don’t reach across hot surfaces.  Be sure to read all directions and understand the proper use of electrical appliances and stoves before use.  These precautions can also be utilized to prevent burns in residential kitchens.  Although some of these are occupationally specific precautions to take, there are additional general safety measures you can implement to avoid possible burn hazards in your own office, the most simple of which being aware of hot or corrosive objects and substances.  Continue reading

On Thursday afternoon, an explosion at the North Andover Dow Chemical facility injured five workers, four critically. State and federal officials are investigating the explosion, which took place in a chemical lab at the plant. As a precautionary measure, the state’s bomb squad will be detonating chemicals that may have injured the workers.  In addition, the facility is being secured by emergency personnel to ensure that safety requirements are being followed. The official cause of the explosion is still unknown. Contact a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today.

Four of the injured workers were hospitalized and one was treated at the scene for minor injuries. According to staff at Lawrence General Hospital, the critically injured workers are suffering from burns and shrapnel injuries. The burns appear to have been caused by a dangerous chemical called trimethylaluminum, a key component in LED lights, of which Dow is a manufacturer. More commonly known as trimethyl aluminum, the colorless liquid is highly flammable and reactive, and it is considered to be an explosion hazard.

No Atmospheric Release of Chemicals

In Massachusetts, when a worker is injured on-the-job, he or she is generally eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation is an insurance program designed to replace lost wages and cover the cost of medical expenses when an individual is injured in the course of employment. Certain medical costs may not be covered, depending on the worker’s jurisdiction. In Massachusetts, for example, workers are not eligible to receive benefits for scarring injuries to the arms, legs, and torso. However, due to a recent case involving a metal worker that was severely burned after falling into a vat of chemicals, this may soon change. Contact a Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation  Attorney Today.

Sylbert Stewart, a 56-year-old Lowell resident, suffered second and third degree burns on both legs and feet while working at a factory in Belmont. Today, Stewart is permanently scarred and in constant pain. His injuries resulted in a 40% decrease in earnings, and he has received no compensation for the scarring injuries. In Massachusetts, disfiguring injuries must occur on the face, hands, and neck in order for the worker to be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, recent advocacy from the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health members and allies may have had enough of an impact to change this requirement. In late October, a Senate bill was approved 36 to 1 that would allow scarring victims to receive compensation for their injuries, regardless of where on the body the injuries occurred. The bill, which was sponsored by Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representative Sean Garballey, would remove the face, hands, and neck requirement and would increase the victim’s compensation to 22.5 times the average weekly wage in Massachusetts. Continue reading

Work-related burns are responsible for up to 25% of all burns requiring medical attention in the United States. Burns can occur in any type of job, but the most commonly reported occupations are kitchen workers, welders, laboratory employees, and construction workers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that approximately 200 fatalities and over 5,000 injuries occur annually as a result of workplace fires and explosions. The majority of these injuries involve thermal burns, however, chemical and electrical burns can be equally dangerous. The effects to the integumentary system (skin) and respiratory system (lungs) can cause permanent and debilitating damage.

Thermal Burns

Thermal burns are the most common type of burn injury. Heat sources including fire, steam, hot liquids, hot objects, and hot metals can cause injuries ranging from superficial skin damage to fourth degree burns that expose muscle and bone.

 

  • It is a common misconception that burns cause most fire-related fatalities. In fact, 50% to 80% of fatalities are caused by smoke inhalation. When a victim inhales the components of combustion, oxygen is depleted, potentially resulting in asphyxiation. Essentially, the victim is choking while the elements of combustion burn the trachea and lungs. Smoke inhalation symptoms may be delayed, so victims should be monitored carefully.
  • Wet heat (such as steam), hot food, and hot liquids can burn through skin and connective tissue faster than dry heat. This may result in scalding.

Hot water heaters, defective machinery, grease burns, exposed pipes, and industrial ovens and stoves are examples of workplace heat sources that can cause thermal burns. Continue reading

In the state Senate, a bill was introduced this year that could enhance the benefits allowed for injuries involving permanent disfigurement under the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Act. Currently, workers here who sustain disfigurement on their legs, arms, and torsos are not entitled to work injury compensation for those injuries, although they may still receive other benefits for income loss, medical care, and non-scar based disfigurements.

Massachusetts workers’ compensation for permanent scarring is only provided for disfigurement that occurs to the neck, face, or hands. State workers’ compensation law awards a lump-sum payment to these permanently scarred or disfigured workers. If the injury is purely scar-based, the amount of the award will depend on the size of the scar and whether discoloration occurred.

The bill would allow workers disfigured on the lower areas of their body to get compensation too.

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Two workers sustained burn injuries in a Newbury, MA construction accident on Tuesday. The incident took place in a trench close to a gas line.

At the time, crews were replacing old gas pipes when a flash fire ignited as a worker was welding a cap onto the old gas line. According to firefighters, there was still some residual gas, which was ignited by the welding torch.

Another worker ran to the trench, pulling the other man out. Both men were taken to the hospital. The worker who was in a trench when the fire happened sustained severe burn injuries to his face. The other worker sustained minor burns from the rescue.

NStar and state authorities are investigating a gas explosion in Shrewsbury that injured a gas worker.

A spokesman for NStar said that the gas explosion destroyed a backhoe, and caused nearly 150 nearby gas customers to lose service for hours. One worker was treated for a burn injury as a result of the blaze.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will investigate the accident further.

Burns are common injuries in the workplace. Regardless of their cause, burns can be incredibly painful and may cause long-term complications, scars, disfigurement, and even death. Burns are classified into three categories: superficial, partial-thickness, and full-thickness. When workers are injured on the job, regardless of their injury, it is in their best interest to seek the advice and assistance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
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