Texas is a growing place. People are moving from all over the nation but that means new houses and buildings going up. Increased law enforcement and first responders in small towns that have to keep up with the population growth. According to some, Texas leads the nation in job growth. However, not all jobs are hazard free and some are way riskier than others.
A workplace burn is no small joke. Many people can be injured at work from just being the sun and they aren’t properly dressed. Workplace injuries can cause lawsuits if they are serious enough. But how can that be? What qualifies as a workplace burn?
What if you just burn your hand drinking coffee? What if you treat it yourself or just muscle through it? The simple answer is that if someone was involved in a workplace burn, that isn’t self-inflicted, they might be entitled to compensation.
First, what are the most common workplace burns?
- Thermal Burns — Usually heat from liquids (called "scalding" burns), open flames, hot objects, and explosions. This may be in the form of a naked flame from an open fireplace or house fire, a scald from steam, hot or molten liquid, or via direct contact with a hot object such as a hot oven rack or hot cooking pan.
- Chemical Burns — When coming into contact with strong acids, alkaloids, or other corrosive or caustic materials that eat away or "burn" skin and deeper tissue. Many blue-collar workers are at risk for this type of burn. Particularly in manufacturing plants that use large quantities of chemicals.
- Sun Exposure Burns — Employees who work under the sun should be well versed in the sun safety practices that will keep them safe, and should take precaution to reduce hours under harsh direct sun. Fifteen minutes of midday sun exposure may cause sunburn in a white skin person, while a darker-skinned person may tolerate the exposure for hours.
- Signs and symptoms usually occur after 2-6 hours of exposure and peak at 12-24 hours; they may include:
- Erythema (redness)
- Edema (swelling)
- Tenderness and irritation
- Skin feels hot to touch
- Blistering (severe cases)
- Chills and fever (severe cases)
- Electrical Burns — Electrical current travels through the body and meets resistance in tissue, resulting in heat burn injuries.
How much skin damage is experienced depends on:
- The strength of the current: a function of voltage and tissue resistance
- Type of electrical circuit (direct or alternating current)
- The current pathway
- Duration of contact.
Second, is the Burn Severity or what are the classifications of burns?
- 1st-degree: Burns cause minimal skin damage.
- 2nd-degree: Extends beyond the top layer of the skin and can often cause the skin to blister or become extremely red and sore.
- 3rd-degree: Burns destroy both the epidermis and the dermis, and they can also go as deep as to destroy tissue underneath.
Third, Workplace hazards. If a worker is not safe, the employer is likely at risk. Here are 3 ways to prevent workers from getting burned in the workplace.
- Initial Training - Training should cover hazards and OSHA standards (for workplace hazards)
- Refresher Training - employers should regularly update training so that employees are kept up-to-date with standard changes.
- Hazard Communication - color codes, posters, labels, or signs to warn employees of potential hazards are an employer requirement under the OSH Act, and these vital pieces of Hazard Communication are extremely important in burn prevention.
Also, to prevent workplace burns, check the company’s safety record or their reviews to see if they have had problems in the past with any (former) employees. Additionally, know whether you can join a union to negotiate later on for safer working conditions.
Fourth, know what jobs carry the most risk. There is a countless amount of jobs that can be dangerous, yet there are jobs that are a danger is just inevitable. Such as Firefighters, Electricians, Construction Workers, Healthcare Workers, Mechanics, Food workers (including cooks, servers, and chefs), Janitorial workers, Landscape, and Outdoor workers. These jobs are always classified as high risk, however, these are people who may not know their rights.
Fifth, who’s to blame? Well, blame may not be the right word for this situation. A better word is responsible. Who is responsible for the worker’s burn injury that happened in the workplace? Here are a few things you'll need for determining guilt:
- Police or first responder's written report
- Medical test results and records
- Company’s safety records and/or complaints
- Equipment maintenance records & violations
After you have gathered these things you should contact a lawyer to if you have a fighting chance to get the compensation you deserve. An attorney can help determine if a third-party lawsuit may be appropriate if your workplace burn injuries were the result of the employer's negligence. The advantage of a third-party lawsuit is you can pursue forms of compensation not available in a workers’ compensation claim, such as pain and suffering.
If you need representation in Texas, please contact MAS Law:
Call: (972) 331-0234 or Visit: dallasarealaw.com