What to Expect After a Burn Injury at Work

Burns are common among the types of injuries that occur in the workplace. Accidents involving fire or explosions often produce burns that range from minor to deadly. Chemical spills also account for many burns suffered at work. Individuals working in industries such as plants (especially chemical plants), welding and food service are prone to more burn injuries than other jobs. Learn what to do if you are burned at work and what legal options you have should a burn injury occur.

Types of Burns

Electrical

This burn occurs when you come into contact with an electric current. Any source of electricity can be culpable: these including facility wiring, power lines, lightning and stun guns. These burns occur as either a low voltage (under 500 volts) or high voltage (over 500 volts) event. Electrical burns generally cause more sub-dermal (tissue under the skin) harm than chemical or thermal burns.  

Chemical

You can obtain this type of burn when you come into direct contact with a chemical or its fumes. Strong acids or bases are usually responsible for these burns which range from mild to severe in nature. The face and extremities are the most likely locations for chemical burns.

Thermal

These burns are due to contact with high levels of heat as produced by such things as fire, heated objects, boiling water and other heated liquids. Common locations for these types of burn injuries are the fingers and hands. The burn is often superficial but can (in certain circumstances) be severe.  

Radiation 

The most common type of burn injury from radiation is a sunburn. It is also possible to suffer this type of burn from medical imaging procedures or from nuclear accidents. A radiation burn can range from minor to severe.

Degree of Burns 

First

Superficial burns concerning the outer layer of the skin. These burns are similar in severity to a minor sunburn that does not blister.

Second

These burns reach the dermis (underlayer) of the skin as well as the epidermis (outer layer). Signs of this degree are bright redness, shiny appearance, and swelling. Touching a second-degree burn will produce a moderate amount of pain. Scarring may occur depending on the severity of a second-degree burn.

Third

A burn that obliterates two full skin layers. Rather than a typical red-colored burn, the injury might appear white, black, brown or possibly yellow. Third-degree burns are not as painful as the nerve endings in the skin are destroyed.

Fourth

This degree of burn decimates both layers of skin and damages muscle and ligaments lying underneath the area. 

Fifth

Fifth-degree burns penetrate through two layers of skin and underlying muscle and proceed to damage the bone.

Sixth

This is the most severe degree of burn, which destroys skin, muscle, ligaments and chars bones. Fatalities sometimes occur from sixth-degree burns.

Complications

Prior to Healing:

  • Infection
  • Loss of fluids
  • Lowered body temperature

After Healing:

  • Scars
  • Joint and/or bone issues
  • Mental and/or Emotional Effects

Workman's Compensation

Get medical attention as soon as you can following a burn even if it appears minor. Alert your supervisor to the incident and follow your company's health and safety protocol to the best of your ability. You are entitled to workman's compensation when you experience a burn injury. This compensation typically pays all medical and therapy expenses and pays approximately two-thirds of your pay while you are out of work recovering. Insurance companies sometimes delay or even deny workman's compensation claims for various reasons, so you should seek out a qualified worker compensation lawyer should you face obstacles in your particular circumstance 

Other Legal Claims

Typically, you cannot sue your employer for an accidental burn unless there is severe negligence. There are some situations, however, in which a burn injury is caused by a third party. You might have a legal claim against this party.. For example, you could have a case in which the manufacturer of a piece of defective equipment is at fault for your burn.  Other burn events could involve negligence on the part of a vendor, subcontractor or even a client.

Please contact us for help with your particular circumstances.