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 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.
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.
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.
Burns at work are likely caused by negligence
Since it is well-established by organizations such as OSHA on how to prevent burns, an incident that occurs at the workplace that results in a severe burn could likely be due to the direct negligence of the employer. Whether they failed to provide an employee with adequate gloves to handle corrosive chemicals, failed to mark an area as a high-voltage zone or simply created an unsafe work environment, they are liable.
Every worker has the right to a safe workplace, and this includes safety from unnecessary burns. Regardless of the severity or cause, if the employer failed to maintain the safety of you or a loved one while at work, you are entitled to compensation for any pain, suffering or time missed from work as a result. At Altman & Altman LLP, we have over 40 years of experience litigating Massachusetts workers’ compensation claims, employer negligence and every different area of personal injury case imaginable. We are available for a free consultation to discuss your case 24/7, and we don’t receive any payment unless you are successful in your claim. Call us today at 617-492-3000 or toll-free at 800-481-6199.