Every year, over 5,000 American workers are injured in work-related fires and explosions. Many more suffer from chemical burns, and sun exposure burns. Employers have a duty to provide their employees with a safe workplace, but unfortunately, they do not always hold up their end of the deal. Oftentimes, employers sidestep OSHA safety regulations in an effort to cut costs. Cutting costs is never an excuse for putting the safety of loyal, hardworking employees on the line.
OSHA (the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires employers to adhere to specific regulations to prevent fires and burns in the workplace. In addition to employers ignoring these rules, there are other factors that put employees at risk.
Inadequate training of employees with regard to handling dangerous or bio-hazardous materials contributes to the high rate of injury. Sometimes, employees themselves fail to comply with safety regulations. Many workers are unaware that Workers’ Compensation is a “no-fault” system.
Most burn injuries occur in restaurants, including fast food restaurants and pizzerias. Kitchen workers are exposed to hot oil, grease, steam, hot food and beverages, stoves, grills, steamers, and deep fryers. According to OSHA, deep fat fryers are the leading cause of burn injuries among restaurant workers. As a result, young people working as fry cooks are at high risk for injury. Often these employees are inexperienced, and the risk is compounded by pressure to keep up during busy periods.
Industrial workers are also at high risk of burn injuries. Contact with corrosive or caustic chemicals can cause severe injury. Burns that occur in manufacturing industries and paper mills are often larger in size on the body than a restaurant injury, because they often occur due to explosions or fast fires.
With any type of burn injury, it is critical to seek medical attention immediately. Burns range in severity from first to fourth degree. First-degree burns are superficial but painful. They appear red and turn white when pressure is applied. Second-degree burns can appear blistery and wet, or white and dry. Third degree burns usually require a skin graft. The most severe burns are fourth degree burns, where tendons, muscle, and even bone may be affected. These often require amputation.
“Thermal burns” occur when a person is exposed to a heat source. To treat a thermal burn, first move the individual away from the heat source. Appropriate treatment varies widely depending on the severity of the burn. Cold water should not be applied on second degree burns or worse. Sun exposure burns are considered a type of thermal burn.
“Electrical burns” occur when a current travels through the body, burning internal tissue. This is one of the most serious injuries a person can receive and are usually fatal. Electricity can damage internal organs, and the extent of the damage may not be immediately apparent.
“Chemical burns” are caused by contact with a chemical substance and do not require heat. Chemical burns continue doing damage until the chemical reaction is complete or the chemical is flushed from the skin. If you come in contact with a corrosive or caustic chemical, flush the area for at least 20 minutes, then cover with a dry, sterile, nonstick dressing.
Severe burns can lead to years of costly treatment and recovery. Some burn injuries may even prevent a victim from ever being able to work again. Workers who suffer on-the-job burn injuries may be entitled to immediate payment of medical expenses related to the workplace accident, lost wages, and other forms of relief.
In some instances, in addition to obtaining Workers’ Compensation, burn victims may be entitled to pursue a third party liability claim if a third party caused or contributed to their injury.
The experienced Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers of Gross & Kenny, LLP, know how to deal with insurance companies to maximize a person’s Workers’ Compensation benefits. Call us today at 267-589-0090 or 215-512-1500 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.