Protecting Against Workplace Burn Injuries
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are four main types of workplace burn injuries: thermal, chemical, electrical and sun exposure. OSHA reports that there are over 5,000 work-related burn injuries each year, ranging from superficial to life-threatening. This equals around 8% of the workforce.
Burns are classified by degrees. First degree burns cause damage to the top layer of skin. These types of burns can usually be treated at home. Second degree burns damage the first and second layers of skin, require medical treatment and may require a hospital stay. Third degree burns are the most damaging of all, affecting all skin layers and the tissue beneath the skin. Third degree burns require lengthy hospital stays and cause long-term damage. Skin grafts and extensive physical therapy may be required, as well. Fourth degree burns damage all layers of skin and tissue and can also damage tendons and bone. Most often, fourth degree burns require amputation.
Types of Workplace Burns
Burns are categorized in the following ways:
- Thermal – Thermal, or heat burns, result from contact with hot liquids, or from exposure to explosions, flames or heated objects. It is important to keep sparks or flames away from combustible materials and supply flame-resistant clothing. Employers should train employees to stay clear of hot surfaces and to practice caution when working around hot equipment.
- Chemical – Chemical burns occur when the skin or eyes come into contact with caustic or hazardous chemicals such as industrial cleaners or solvents. Employers must provide an eye wash station and train employees on proper handling procedures.
- Electrical – Electrical burns occur when a worker comes into contact with high-voltage equipment. If an employee is working on electrical equipment, they should be trained in electrical safety.
- Sun Exposure – Sun exposure burns are thermal burns that require their own classification due to the high number of cases. Landscapers, farmers and other outdoor workers have to take precautionary measures to protect themselves against the sun. Employers should provide proper protective clothing, encourage adequate hydration and supply workers with breaks throughout the workday.
Employer Responsibility to Protect Employees Against Burns
Employees have a responsibility to their employees to provide a safe workplace. According to OSHA guidelines, employers must meet the following standards:
- Initial Training – Employers must provide proper training to employees to protect against workplace burn injuries. OSHA recommends each employee participate in a 10-hour training session regarding the basics of workplace safety, and then receive specialized training required for the employee’s specific work area.
- Continuing Education – It is important to provide refresher materials and training to employees on a regular schedule. This will keep workplace safety at the forefront of the minds of the workers and the employer.
- Proper Hazard Signage and Documentation – OSHA requires hazardous materials to be properly labeled, warning signs prominently displayed detailing hazards and proper safety measures and regular communication between supervisors and employees as to the dangers present on the worksite.
In order to reduce the potential for workplace burns, employers should initiate preventive measures, including keeping workplaces clear of clutter, maintaining fire extinguishers and other safety equipment, properly storing hazardous chemicals, supplying the correct personal protective equipment and having an emergency plan in place.
No employer wants to see an employee harmed while working, but sometimes safety measures are not followed as thoroughly as necessary. If you believe you have suffered a burn injury as the result of poor workplace safety measures, it is crucial to have your case evaluated. The Law Office of Dwayne L. Brown has the experience you need to properly investigate your claim and seek the compensation you deserve. You work hard to do your best for your employer. Let Dwayne L. Brown work hard to protect you. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.
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