Articles Posted in Burns

February 4 through 10 was National Burn Awareness Week, during which the American Burn Association encouraged the public to think about burn dangers in the home and workplace. Although more than 96 percent of burn injuries are non-fatal, many victims suffer debilitating medical complications and severe scarring that can affect them physically and emotionally for a lifetime.

In the Workplace

Thousands of workers suffer burn injuries annually in the United States. The three most common types of workplace burn injuries are thermal (heat), electrical, and chemical. Reduce the risk of these injuries by following the tips below:

  • If you are working with flammable or combustible materials, keep them away from open flames and sparks.
  • Employees working with flammable or combustible materials, or near open flames, should wear flame-resistant clothing.
  • Do not touch equipment until you are certain it is not hot.
  • If a worker suffers a thermal burn injury, move him or her to a safe place. If clothing is on fire, help the person to stop, drop and roll until the flames are completely extinguished.
  • If the burn is mild (first-degree), apply cool water to the injury, elevate the body part, and give the person water to drink.
  • If the person has sustained a second-degree burn, do not apply cool water. Simply elevate the body part and give the person water to drink.
  • If the burn is more serious (third-degree), do not apply cool water, do apply a sterile, nonstick dressing to the wound, treat the person for shock, and seek medical attention immediately.
  • To prevent chemical burns, ensure that chemicals are stored and labeled correctly.
  • Wear appropriate safety gear when working with dangerous chemicals.
  • Before beginning a job working with chemicals, make sure that you know the location of a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, and nearest eye wash station.
  • Immediately remove contaminated clothing if you come into contact with dangerous chemicals.
  • To avoid electrical burns and electrocutions, utilize proper Lockout / Tagout procedures at all times.
  • Overhead power lines should be marked.
  • If a worker suffers an electrical burn or injury, turn off the power.
  • Do not touch the injured worker until you are sure the power has been turned off.
  • Check the worker’s airway and breathing, treat for shock, and seek medical attention immediately.

A MA personal injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

Work-related injuries can occur in any occupation, from secretaries and librarians to construction workers and miners. You don’t have to be working in a “dangerous industry” to get injured. In fact, repetitive motion injuries are most common among office workers. Repetitive motion injuries often affect the hand and arm, causing a wide range of complications, including carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis.

But hand and arm injuries can also be more catastrophic; thousands of crush injuries, lacerations and amputations occur annually in the United States. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 50,000 workers suffer an arm injury every year. Arm injuries cause workers to miss an average of 11 days of work. And work-related hand injuries are even more common. The BLS estimates that more than 137,000 workers suffer a hand injury annually. These injuries typically result in less missed work, however, with the average being five days.

Combined, hand and arm injuries affect nearly 200,000 U.S. workers every year. With such staggering numbers, employers should consider reviewing their hand and arm safety policies. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured or become ill at work.

Repetitive Motion Injuries

Obtaining workers’ compensation for amputations and crush injuries is often easier than for repetitive motion injuries, which are more common but harder to prove. Further, repetitive motion injuries are not felt all at once after a single, traumatic event. Rather, the pain and complications associated with repetitive motion injuries reveal themselves over time as they continue to damage the nerves, muscles, and / or tendons. But when these injuries become apparent, they can be just as debilitating as a more “serious” injury. The pain from bursitis or epicondylitis (tennis elbow), for example, can be excruciating. If a worker is no longer able to perform his or her job due to this type of injury, the loss of income can be just as devastating as it is with sudden injuries, such as amputations or chemical burns to the eyes.

Traumatic Injuries

With the more event-based, traumatic injuries such as amputations and crush injuries, the cause is often related to poor employee training, lack of safety gear, and failure to implement proper lockout/tagout procedures, which protect against unexpected start ups while workers are performing maintenance on a machine. If employer negligence played a role in a hand or arm injury, the worker may be entitled to additional compensation – beyond workers’ comp benefits – for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages. For example, an employer may neglect to properly guard machinery and provide employees with appropriate safety gear. If the failure to do so results in a serious injury, the employer may be liable.

According to the BLS, thousands of U.S. workers lose a body part to workplace amputations annually, and about 21 workers die from these amputations. The most common pieces of equipment responsible for work-related amputations and crushing injuries are drill and mechanical power presses, meat grinders, food slicers, conveyors, portable and table saws, milling shears and machines, slitters and grinders, and power press brakes.


Serious lacerations account for up to 30 percent of all on-the-job injuries. Deep puncture wounds and lacerations that involve tendon or nerve damage are often due to poor training and safety protocol, failure to wear appropriate safety gear, and lack of guarding equipment. These injuries can occur because the worker simply wasn’t paying attention, but all too often employer negligence is a factor. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured at work. Continue reading

When people think of chlorine, the first thing that comes to mind is usually swimming pools. But chlorine is actually an extremely toxic – potentially deadly – substance. In fact, the gas produced by chlorine is so deadly that it was used during WWI as a chemical weapon. Although most chlorine-related injuries are minor burns or skin irritations, more serious injuries occur every year. Chlorine gas can cause fatal explosions, and even short-term exposure can result in life-threatening respiratory complications.

A fatal chlorine accident occurred in 2015, when an unmarked drum of chlorine gas was crushed. Eight Pacific Steel and Recycling employees were injured at the Spokane, Washington facility. One of those workers died. In 2017, one of the injured employees filed a lawsuit. Felix Shuck suffered a fifty percent reduction in lung capacity, as well as multiple other injuries that prevented him from continuing to work. However, Shuck is suing the company that delivered the chlorine gas, not his employer. Ibex Construction is being sued for negligence for allegedly hiring a subcontractor whose failure to label the drum resulted in the fatal accident.

But Pacific Steel and Recycling didn’t get away unscathed; a government agency fined the company for failure to follow certain procedures. For example, they failed to ensure that the gas drum was empty prior to accepting it, and they stripped the drum of its pressure gauges, which may have contributed to the accident. A Boston work injury lawyer can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in an accident involving toxic substances or fumes.

How to Avoid Injuries Related to Toxic Substances

If you must work around toxic substances, the following practices can dramatically reduce your risk of serious injury or death.


  • Substitute an existing substance, process, or equipment with a less hazardous alternative.
  • Isolate the hazard with an appropriate barrier or limiter, such as machine guards, remote-controlled equipment, and acoustical containment.
  • Ventilate the work environment through one of two methods – dilution of the substance by mixing with uncontaminated air, or the capture and removal of the substance at the source.
  • Change operating practices to reduce exposure to chemical hazards. This can be done by adjusting work schedules, limiting access to high-risk areas, and establishing preventive maintenance programs.
  • Use personal protection equipment, such as ventilators, masks, and protective clothing.


Who is Liable for Injuries Caused by Workplace Exposure to Toxic Substances?

Work-related injuries are generally covered by workers’ compensation, but individuals may recover additional damages if negligence contributed to the accident, as in the case above. Chlorine gas is one type of toxic substance, but there are many others, including asbestos. Asbestos is one of the deadliest toxic substances in the history of workplace toxic substances. According to the World Heath Organization more than 100,000 people die annually due to asbestos-related lung cancer, such as mesothelioma and asbestosis. In many cases, multiple parties may be liable for injuries caused by workplace exposure to toxic substances, including contractors (as in the case above), the original manufacturer, and the employer. A MA work injury lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured on the job due to another’s negligence. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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

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