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Common Burn Injuries in the Workplace

Posted on June 30, 2022

Burns are a common workplace injury across various industries. In fact, over 5,000 workers are treated for burn injuries each year, 200 of which are fatal, according to OSHA (the Occupational Safety & Health Administration).

Types of Burn Injuries

Workplace burn injuries range in severity from first to fourth degree and are often categorized as one of the following types:

Thermal Burns

Thermal burns occur when an individual comes into close contact with something hot. For example:

  • Open flames
  • Hot objects, including heavy machinery or cooking utensils
  • Scalding hot water or steam
  • Sun exposure

Industrial plants and the food service industry carry high risks of thermal burns.

Electrical Burns

Electrical burns occur when a current of electricity passes through the body. This type of burn can cause significant internal damage without leaving a visible burn on the skin. The occupations most at risk of electrical burns include electricians, construction laborers, roofers, painters, and carpenters.

Chemical Burns

Chemical burns are caused by the skin coming into contact with a harsh and corrosive substance—such as bleach, disinfectants, chlorine, or battery acid. The chemicals can stay on the skin for long periods of time, destroying cells and reaching deeper lays of skin or tissue. Those at the highest risk of chemical burns include construction workers, factory workers, farmers, laboratory technicians, and mechanics.

Radiation Burns

Radiation burns can occur when exposed to high levels of radiant light energy. A burn or a wound may appear on the skin. The jobs at the highest risk of suffering radiation burns include mine workers, nuclear power plant workers, airline pilots, flight attendants, baggage screeners, astronauts, members of the military, and radiology technicians.

Friction Burns

Friction burns happen when the skin comes into contact with an abrasive surface, either when the person or surface is moving at high speed. As a result, the skin gets rubbed raw, burned, blistered, or deeply wounded. In the workplace, friction burns can occur, for example, from sanding or automotive belts, using rope, or vehicle accidents at construction sites if a worker comes into contact with the road.

Degrees of Workplace Burn Injuries

Physicians generally classify burns into the following four categories:

First-Degree Burns

This burn is superficial and only damages the outer layer of skin (epidermis). The symptoms are relatively minor, with some pain and redness, but do not cause blisters or long-term damage.

Second-Degree Burns

Second-degree burns destroy the epidermis and affect the second layer of skin (dermis). As a result, they may be bright red, swollen, and look shiny and wet. These types of burns can vary in intensity, depending on whether they are superficial or deep. A superficial second-degree burn only damages part of the dermis and likely will not cause scarring. While deep partial-thickness second-degree burns are more severe and may permanently change the color of the skin or leave a scar.

Third Degree Burns

Also referred to as “full-thickness burns,” a third-degree burn destroys both the epidermis and dermis layer of skin, causing damage to the tissue underneath. As a result, the burn may appear black, brown, white, or yellow. This type of burn does not hurt because the nerve endings are completely destroyed. These burns can be disfiguring and often require skin graft surgery.

Fourth Degree Burns

This burn destroys all skin lawyer, goes deeper than the subcutaneous (fat) level, and damages muscle and bone. These burns can cause many complications, such as infection, bone, and joint problems, or amputation, and are fatal in some cases.

Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Burn Injuries?

You are entitled to workers’ compensation if you suffer a burn injury while working. These benefits will cover all reasonable and necessary medical bills, partial wages while you recover, and more. In addition, if a third party contributed to your burn accident, you may be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit for additional compensation. Call (713) 225-0500 and speak to our Waco burn injury lawyers today.