Employees that suffer burns in the workplace are significantly effected financially, as well as physically.
Burns injuries can result from a workplace accident occurring in various occupations. A worker may be exposed to an environment in which flammable materials or volatile chemicals are used. Electrical burns can occur in workplaces where workers have to work around live electrical wires such as construction sites where currents are not properly marked or protected.
Our St. Louis work related injury lawyer explains that some occupations that are at high risk of sustaining burn injuries include construction workers, road pavers, welders, restaurant workers and road pavers.
Burn Injuries in the Workplace
Burns are classified as thermal, electrical and chemical burns, and as first, second, third, and fourth degree burns based on the severity. According to the 2012 fact sheet published by the American Burn Association:
- Each year, 450,000 burn injuries receive medical treatment
- Each year, 3,400 burn deaths occur
- Nearly 40,000 burn injuries require hospitalization annually
- Of the total burn injuries treated, 69% occurred at home and 9% were occupational injuries. The remaining were due to highway and street injuries, recreational and others.
As the name implies, these burns result from a heat source which may be due to an industrial accident, a fire, grease or some hot liquid that damages the skin. Any damage to the skin can be extremely debilitating. Also, thermal burns put a worker at high risk of inhalation injury from smoke. It also exposes to worker to the risk of upper airway and lungs damage, carbon monoxide poisoning and neurological damage of the fire occurred in an enclosed space.
Chemical burns are the ones that cause damage by way of caustic reaction with skin, lung tissue or eyes. If the person works with chemical agents, there must be standards in place for keeping the area well ventilated and ensuring complete workplace safety.
These burns occur from contact with “live wire” or electrical current. When a worker comes into contact with a “live wire” the immediate and most serious risk of disturbance of the electrical conducted system of the heart that can trigger arrhythmia, heart attack or even death. Even if the worker survives without a fatal cardiac arrest, and sustains only skin burns, the burns would be treated as thermal burns. However, any cardiac condition would be treated with specialized medical care. Any serious damage to the heart muscles caused by electrical burns can cause congestive heart failure.
Classification of Burns
- First degree burns: These are minor burns involving only the outermost layer of the skin
- Second degree burns: These are classified into partial or full thickness burns depending on the how deep the burn is. Partial thickness burns involve the epidermis and only the outer papillary thermal layer. While these burns normally resolve with medical care, they may be severe if they cover a large area or are overlying a joint.
- Third degree burns: These are the most severe burns and can be catastrophic. These burns destroy the entire skin and damage extend further down to the level of subcutaneous tissues. These burns may involve nerve damage as well.
- Fourth degree burns: These extend to the muscle and bone are almost always fatal.
Workers Compensation Benefits for Burns Injuries
If you have been injured at work due to a chemical, electrical, or thermal burn, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. If you are able, inform your employer or supervisor. Depending on the severity of your burn injury, you may need extensive medical and emotional treatment. It is important to speak to a St. Louis workers compensation attorney as soon as possible to make sure you are receiving ALL of your benefits, not just the ones your employers insurance carrier wants to accept.
Call the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann at (314) 361-4300 or fill out our online contact form to request a free and private consultation.