An important element of workplace safety is being aware of hazards that could cause a worker serious injury. Each year thousands of workers suffer from thermal, chemical, or electrical burns in the workplace. Many of Texas’s workers have jobs in the energy, manufacturing, and food-service industries, all of which have the potential to cause those on a job site to suffer thermal, chemical, and electrical burns. At least one study determined workplace burn injuries predominantly occur among young male workers, with chemical burns being the most frequent injury sustained. However, the threat of being burned while at work exists for all employees. Employers are required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to train all employees on fire, chemical, and electrical safety while in the workplace to prevent serious injuries and deaths related to being burned.
Classification of Burn Injuries
Burns are categorized by their severity. Medical experts classify burns into four categories. It is important to understand how severe your burn may be when seeking treatment for your injury. The four main classifications of burn injuries include:
- First-degree burns: First-degree burns affect the outer layer of skin. They are the least severe type of burns. First-degree burns may not require serious medical attention unless there is significant pain associated with the damage.
- Second-degree burns: Second-degree burns reach the dermis layer of skin, making them more severe than first-degree. These burns can cause blisters, pain, and uncomfortable swelling. Medical treatment should be sought.
- Third-degree burns: Third-degree burns are more severe, affecting not only the skin but injuring underlying tissues. Medical attention should be sought if a third-degree burn is suffered.
- Fourth-degree burns: Fourth-degree burns are the least common of the four categories, but they are the most damaging and debilitating. Fourth-degree burns not only injure the skin and surrounding tissue, but also the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones. These burns can be fatal.
Steps to Take After a Burn Injury at Work
If you have sustained a burn injury at work, the following steps are essential to receiving the care and compensation needed to fully recover:
- Seek medical treatment immediately
No matter what degree of burn you have suffered, if you have been burned at work you should seek medical attention immediately. This may range from a quick trip to your doctor to emergency transport to the hospital. Burns must be treated quickly to minimize the potential for developing severe skin infections, scarring, or even death. Being burned while on the job can be incredibly traumatizing and you may go into shock. If you are unable to transport yourself to a medical treatment facility, do not hesitate to call emergency services.
- Notify your supervisor or manager
When a burn takes place at work, it is crucial to notify your supervisor or the manager on duty. They need to know about every workplace accident so they can report it to the necessary safety department and/or government entity. If you have sustained a severe burn, they will need to investigate the cause of the occupational injury in order to make the workplace safe for your coworkers. You may also need to take a long absence from the job to recover from the burn injury you suffered. If applicable, your supervisor or manager can start the workers’ compensation claim process to facilitate financial recovery from your medical bills. Reporting your injury “by the book” will be necessary in case future legal battles must be fought either directly against your employer or against a responsible third party.
- Document the damages
Keep records of every medical appointment, medical procedure, hospital stay, and necessary medical prescription to have available as evidence of your injuries. Your medical bills may start to pile up, as there may be surgeries, physical therapy, medications, and more that are required for your recovery. If you have to take time off from work to recover, document the hours you are missing and the wages you are losing throughout that recovery period.
- Gather evidence
From the moment you were burned and started medical treatment, you should document your injuries. Take photos of the injury, and if you can, take photos and video of where you were injured at work. There may also be security camera footage, computer logs, and eyewitnesses that can be interviewed to gain a full picture of how your burn injury took place. If workplace negligence is involved, you will want to have every piece of evidence available.
- Contact an experienced workplace injury attorney
Working with an experienced workplace injury attorney can help your claim move quickly through the system. They can help negotiate on your behalf to ensure that fair compensation is awarded to you either through negotiations or a civil lawsuit. Since workers’ compensation claims can be denied and/or do not always cover all of your recovery costs, a burn injury attorney will help you file a lawsuit against your employer or another liable party to help you obtain the financial compensation you need to get back on your feet. It is important to note that if you have accepted workers’ compensation, you will usually be unable to file a lawsuit against your employer. Other parties may be held liable, though, for your damages, and only an experienced trial lawyer will know how to investigate all aspects of your situation and identify any other potentially responsible parties from whom you can recover.
Houston Workplace Injury Attorneys
Regardless of occupation, all workers have a right to a safe work environment free from the dangers of being burned. When employers fail to provide an environment in compliance with local and federal safety standards, workers are at immediate risk for life-altering injuries, or worse, death. If you or someone you know has been seriously burned or killed as a result of being burned at work, you could be entitled to significant financial compensation; however, there is limited time to act following a workplace accident in Texas. Contact the Houston injury attorneys at Dax F. Garza, P.C. today for a free and confidential case consultation.