What You Need to Know About Workplace Burn Injuries
Burn injuries tend to happen most frequently on the job. They are one of the leading causes of unintentional injury in the U.S. Depending on their occupation, some workers are at higher risk for burn injuries than others.
According to the American Burn Association, more than 5,000 workplace burn injuries occur in the U.S. every year, with 8% of all burn injuries happening on the job. These burns can range from relatively mild first-degree burns to severe fourth-degree burns.
Due to the common nature of workplace burns, it’s helpful to understand what can cause these workplace accidents, the types of burns you are most likely to sustain on the job, and how you can claim workers’ compensation benefits in the event of a workplace burn injury.
Types of Workplace Burns
Any degree of burn can cause severe pain, lost wages, and costly medical bills. The classification of the burn depends on how many layers of skin have been damaged.
Also known as a superficial burn, first-degree burns are the mildest burns and typically only cause slight damage to the top layer of skin known as the epidermis. These burns can cause your skin to be red, inflamed, and painful to the touch. A common example of a first-degree burn is sunburn.
These burns damage the top layer of skin, and the next layer called the dermis. A second-degree burn typically results in blistering that can cause swelling and pain.
These burns are even more severe and can damage the epidermis, dermis, and underlying tissue. A third-degree burn, also known as a full-thickness burn, is usually characterized by leathery, black, brown, or yellowy skin. Because these burns destroy nerve endings, you may not feel much pain; however, you may need a skin graft to repair the damaged skin and tissue.
These are the most severe category of burns that destroy skin, tissue, and muscle. In many cases, the victims of these devastating burns require amputation of the affected area.
Workplace Burn Injuries
There are also several types of workplace burn injuries that can result in varying degrees of burns, including sun/UV light, thermal, chemical, and radiation. You can protect yourself against many of these by wearing appropriate protective gear. If your injury occurs because your company fails to provide equipment or the gear is faulty, you should consult a lawyer.
Sun/UV Light Burns
Sunburn can come from the sun or UV light. Protect yourself by wearing factor 50 sunscreen if you work long hours outside.
Thermal or heat burns happen after exposure to extreme heat, including an open flame, explosion, steam, hot liquids, or other hot objects. Follow all precautions when handling extremely hot items.
Chemical substances like acids and alkali that eat away at the skin can cause chemical burns to the body, skin, or eyes.
Nuclear radiation exposure can cause radiation burns. If you work with any nuclear devices, follow all safety protocols.
Other common types of burns include electrical burns and burns from friction and cold. Because the source of your burn dictates the type of medical attention and treatment, you’ll need to be as clear as possible when describing your accident to doctors.
Burn treatments include medications, wound dressings, skin grafts, and surgery.
While many workers are at risk of sustaining burns on the job, some occupations have an even higher risk than others. These occupations include firefighters, electricians, construction workers, mechanics, and food workers.
Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance usually covers burn injuries that occur at work. Workers’ compensation generally includes payment of medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses such as medications, and lost wages. If you suffer a burn on the job, seek immediate medical attention, and report the injury to your employer as soon as possible.
In most cases, injured workers receive ⅔ of their weekly wages through workers’ compensation. You will need to provide medical documentation to the insurance company to prove that you cannot work due to your injuries. It also covers required physical therapy and medical appointments.
In Michigan, your employer can select your medical provider for the first 28 days of your injury. If you see an unapproved doctor, you run the risk of a denied claim.
Doctors recommended by your employer or their insurance company may deny your injury to avoid paying worker’s compensation benefits. You have the right to choose your own doctor after 28 days.
If you are unsure how to file a workers’ compensation claim, it’s best to work with an attorney. The experienced workers’ comp attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., can help ensure you file your claim correctly, and you don’t miss any critical deadlines. They can also pursue other legal avenues for your personal injury. If your burn was the result of a third party, for example, you might be able to pursue a third-party lawsuit.
Arrange a Free Consultation
If you received a burn injury on the job, the personal injury attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. can help you navigate the workers’ compensation process and get the compensation you deserve. Call our law firm today at (866) 642-4529 to schedule a confidential, free consultation.