Burns in the workplace are among the most common injuries that occur. According to the latest data released by the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 180,000 deaths a year are caused by burns. While a good number of these happen in homes, a considerable amount also occur at work.
In the workplace, employees are often exposed to many burn hazards, ranging from electrical currents to open flames. Sadly, burns remain a top issue despite the safety guidelines set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Common Types of Workplace Burn Injuries
The most common source of a burn injury would be an open fire, but a burn can result from many different things in the workplace. Thus, employers must continuously provide their employees with proper education about the types of burn injuries and how to avoid them. Some of these types are:
Chemical burns are much more common in specific industries. They often happen as a result of direct contact with corrosive compounds, acids, and alkalines. They are pretty standard when employees need to handle industrial cleaners and chemicals.
It is the employer’s responsibility to make sure that all their chemical materials have proper labeling, including warnings of chemical reactions when mishandled. It would also be prudent for employers to label chemical substances with guidelines on what their employees should if the chemical comes into contact with their skin or eyes. Hazardous chemical training and education should also be part of organizational processes.
Employees handling heated items are prone to suffer thermal burns, resulting from the excessive heat that can come from hot vapor, open flames, furnaces, steam, or heated metal. These thermal burn accidents are most common in industrial warehouses and food service industries.
Employers must ensure that they provide their employees with proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Failure to do so demonstrates negligence, which would be used as a basis for workers’ compensation. The company should also have an emergency response team for such accidents.
Workers can also suffer from electrical burns, specifically those working in the construction and manufacturing industries. Based on the survey conducted by the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), construction-related injuries were responsible for as much as 54% of electrical fatalities.
What to Do During a Burn Accident
Here is what workers should do in case they suffer from any burn injury:
Seek Medical Help
Before you do anything else, you have to make sure that your burn is treated immediately. If you have a minor burn injury, get medical help. If it’s severe, seek urgent care. Never delay your medical treatment as it can delay your compensation claim. Get copies of your medical records to serve as proof of the injury.
Report to Your Employer
For work-related burn injuries, employees must ensure that the incident is reported to the employer. This is necessary since you have to file for a worker’s compensation benefits, including payment for the medical bills that you will incur, lost wages, therapy, and other out of pocket expenses.
Get a Lawyer
Working with a worker’s compensation lawyer can ensure that you successfully attain your benefits. These lawyers specialize in calculating the financial cost of the injuries you sustained, specifically if your injuries are severe enough to cause you to lose income. Getting legal advice is necessary if the insurance company tries to settle for less.
Burn accidents can be deadly. Both employers and employees must ensure that safety is their highest priority, especially if workers are expected to function in hazardous situations. More than anything else, staying safe should be at the forefront of any industry.