According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are over 5,000 work-related burn injuries each year in the United States. Many associate burn injuries with dangerous professions, such as firefighting or welding, but burn injuries are possible in any industry.
Under OSHA regulations, each employer has the responsibility to provide a safe workplace. This means that employers must provide employees with proper safety equipment, must examine each workplace to ensure that safety protocols are being followed and must develop an emergency action plan. Employers must further provide proper safety training to employees. This training should include an initial training, as well as refresher training that is regularly assigned to employees. Employers are required to warn employees of potential hazards and must use signage that clearly marks hazardous areas and materials. Businesses are subject to surprise OSHA inspections and are required to report all workplace injuries.
Types of Burns
There are four categories of work burns.
- Thermal burns – Caused by open flame, explosions, heated liquid or coming into contact with hot objects.
- Chemical burns – Coming into contact with strong acids or other chemicals that burn the skin and deep tissue. These burns can be caused by industrial cleaners or other chemicals present in laboratories or manufacturing environments.
- Electrical burns – Exposure to an electrical source, such as high-voltage areas and live wires can result in severe skin and organ damage.
- Sun exposure burns – A subset of thermal burns, sun exposure burns occur when workers spend large amounts of time in the sun. Landscapers and farmworkers are the most susceptible to this type of injury.
Severity of Burns
Burns are classified on a scale of severity, ranging from first degree to fourth degree.
- First degree – Minimal damage to the skin that only affects the top layer. There is no blistering, and no damage to the surrounding tissue.
- Second degree – Blistering occurs, and some tissue damage could be present.
- Third degree – These burns destroy the top layer (epidermis) and the deeper tissue (dermis). These burns often take on a white or charred appearance.
- Fourth degree – All skin layers are affected in a fourth-degree burn. The damage to the deep tissue is severe, and tendons, muscle and bone can also be damaged. If the injury is severe enough, amputation may be necessary.
If you are a witness to a workplace situation that could lead to a burn injury, you are protected under the Whistleblower Protection Act. Under this act, and employer cannot fire you, demote you or reduce your pay or hours for reporting an infraction. Your complaint will be taken seriously and investigated.
You have the right to safety while performing your workplace tasks, and your employer is required to provide the equipment and training that can prevent accidents. If you have suffered a workplace burn, and believe it is the result of negligence on the part of your employer, call Ligori & Ligori today at (813) 254-7119 or visit us here to schedule your free consultation. Our team has the experience you need to investigate your workplace injury and fight for the compensation you may be owed.
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