Every year in the U.S., around 1.1 million people suffer burn injuries that require medical attention or hospitalization.
These injuries include thermal, electrical, and chemical burns, all of which can happen in the workplace. In fact, you are more likely to suffer a chemical burn at work than at home.
These burns can affect you externally or internally and are extremely painful. However, once the pain subsides, they can also take a long time to recover and may cause irreversible damage.
Because of this, if you suffer a chemical burn at work, it is important to seek proper compensation. This won’t take away the pain or the scars, but it can provide financial relief so that you can focus on your recovery.
In that case, you need to know exactly what to do if you have suffered a chemical burn at work. Read on to find out the ten things you need to do.
1. Seek Medical Attention Immediately
The first thing you need to do after suffering a chemical burn is to get medical help immediately.
Burn injuries continue causing damage long after they first occur. Seeing a doctor quickly will help to minimize the damage and shorten your recovery time.
A doctor will be able to identify the extent of your injuries. Doctors use the 1st-degree burn, 2nd-degree burn, or 3rd-degree burn classification system, with 3rd-degree burns being the most severe. Depending on your type of burn they will be able to provide treatment to minimize the damage it causes and to encourage your recovery.
If possible, try to provide your doctor with as much information as you can about your injury. This includes:
- What caused the burn
- How long your skin was in contact with the chemical
- Details of whether the chemical was concentrated or diluted
- Whether you inhaled or swallowed any of the chemicals.
All of this information will help doctors to make an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan.
2. Make Sure You Have a Documented Record of Your Injuries
Keeping a record of your injuries from day one is extremely important when seeking compensation. This acts as evidence for your case. There are several different types of evidence that you can collect.
Make sure that you have a copy of your medical records. This will outline the extent of your injuries from a professional point of view.
If possible, try to get a doctor or colleague to take pictures of your injuries after your accident if it is safe to do so. Make sure that these photos are time and date-stamped. The hospital may already have photos of your injuries, so it’s always worth asking about these if you don’t manage to take your own.
You should also keep a record of your on-going recovery, such as photos of your burns scars or details of your burn relief medication. This will help you to build a solid case when it’s time to seek compensation.
3. Report the Injury to Your Manager
Following a workplace accident, it is important that you report the injury to your workplace manager as soon as possible.
When you do this, outline your injuries and what caused them. This can help your manager to eliminate risks in the work environment so that your colleagues are protected.
When reporting your injuries, make sure you do this in writing rather than over the phone. Ideally, do it via email so that you have a copy of the correspondence. To be extra thorough, you could also copy in an appropriate staff member, such as a member of the HR team.
4. Record Your Injury in Your Workplace Accident Log
Most workplaces also have an accident log that you need to record your injury in. This is an important part of workplace injury procedure so make sure you don’t overlook it.
Injuries logs contain details of:
- The type of injury you sustained
- Potential causes of your accident
- The date and time it occurred on
- Who was present during the incident
- The type of medical attention you received (for example, using an in-house doctor or going to the ER)
If your workplace doesn’t have an online log, you could ask a trustworthy colleague to record it for you. However, make sure that you follow up on this and ask for a photo of the log for your records.
5. Notify Your Colleagues
Letting your colleagues know about your injuries can prevent similar accidents from taking place.
When doing this, maintain an informative tone rather than an accusatory one. Lay out the facts and causes of your accident – you’re trying to help protect people, not start a riot!
It’s also a good idea to let people know that you have informed the manager of what happened. That way they can follow this up if they feel that there is a potential risk in the workplace.
6. Keep an Eye on Your Deadlines
Once you have reported your injuries, turn your attention to compensation. The first thing you should do is make a note of any deadlines that you need to meet.
Missing a submission deadline could put your whole case in jeopardy and deadlines often vary depending on where you work.
In most states, you have to report an accident within 30 days in order to make a claim for workers’ compensation at a later date. You may have longer to make the claim itself, as it can take some time for you to realize the full extent of your injury.
To make sure that you don’t miss deadlines, take a look through your employment contract and check this against your state’s employment law.
7. Gather Evidence from the Site of Your Injury
Knowing exactly what happened during an accident is vital if you want to get compensation for your injuries. This can show whether or not there was a danger in the workplace that caused your accident or if another colleague was at fault.
Photos or video footage are the best kinds of evidence to find as they are difficult to dispute. If these aren’t available then eye witness accounts can be helpful provided that they all agree on the same course of events.
8. Keep a Record of How Your Injury Impacts Your Life
Injuries from a chemical burn may not just affect you physically. They can also have a knock-on effect on your day-to-day life.
You may not be able to return to work and find yourself under financial pressure. This won’t be helped if you wrack up medical bills during your treatment.
The stress and pain that you experience during recovery can also have a huge impact on your mental health and personal relationships.
However your injuries affect you, it is important to keep a note of these. This will help you to determine how much compensation you should ask for. This is where are burn injuries attorney can help.
9. Get Help From a Burn Injury Lawyer
Burn injury lawyers specialize in burn injury compensation cases and are the perfect people to help you make a workplace claim.
They will be able to review the details of your injuries and make a strong case to get you the fairest deal. They will also be able to help you gather evidence and will handle correspondence with your workplace.
This means you will be free to focus your energy on recovering from your injuries.
10. File a Compensation Claim
Once you have a lawyer on the case, the next thing you need to do is file your compensation case. To do this, you may need to contact the human resources department at your work for the appropriate paperwork.
It’s a good idea to have all of your information ready to go when you start this process. This will speed up the process significantly. You will need:
- Details of your injuries, including when and how they occurred
- Evidence to support your claim
- Details of your employment record, including your working contract
Some employers will already have workers’ comp insurance in place. This can make the claims process a lot easier as they will already be covered.
Get Help With Your Chemical Burn Injury Today
A chemical burn can have a life-long impact but following these ten steps will ensure you get the best possible compensation. If you need help making your claim then a burn injury attorney is the best person to speak to.
For more on how attorneys work to support you in the workplace, keep reading our blog.