Chicago Burn Injury Attorney
Burns in the workplace are a substantial social and economic threat to individuals and families, and communities. Severe burn injuries often result in significant barriers to return to work that include contractures, amputations, weakness, and psychologic issues such as body image concerns, depression, and posttraumatic stress.
Despite ongoing safety measures and guidelines, burns in the workplace continue to account for a considerable percentage of all burns. Up to 30% of all major burn injuries among adults occurred at the workplace.
Statistics presented by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) show that in the US, work-related fires and explosions account for more than 5,000 burn injuries each year. There are studies showing a substantially high number of burn injuries occurring in the workplace, ranging from 10 to 45% of all burns. OSHA cited a study that showed 40% of all workplace burn deaths were related to explosions and burns.
The Food Service Industry experiences the highest number of burns of any employment sector, about 12,000 each year. Cooks, food handlers, kitchen workers, and wait staff are all listed among the top 50 occupations at risk for on-the-job burn injury.
Workplace safety requires training and preparedness. A safe workplace starts with awareness, and is maintained through the collective efforts of the employer and all employees. Examples include learning how to read technical specifications for machine use and understanding how to prevent potential burn injuries. Sometimes, in spite of safety efforts, failed employer procedures, defective equipment, or another worker’s negligent actions can cause injuries to responsible employees.
Burn injuries can be the most painful and serious result of unsafe workplace practices or conditions. Flames, explosions and electronic heating elements are common culprits in burn injuries, but chemical exposure can also cause burns. 4
Common types of burn injuries are described below:
When employers fail to provide PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), employees are forced to handle dangerous chemicals necessary to complete their jobs without the benefit of gloves, face protection, and goggles. Chemical burns occur when corrosive chemicals contact the skin, and cause a scalding effect. The scalding can burn several layers of skin. Industrial cleaners and laboratory chemicals with mislabeled bottles are common sources of these burns.
Workers who handle electricity near water can endure electrical burns by electrocution. Currents that pass through water are powerful, and when human tissue interrupts the current, the surface layers of skin are badly burned.
When high-voltage areas with exposed wires are not properly marked, workers may enter the dangerous are to perform duties and sustain these frightening injuries. Electrical burns are prime examples of corporate negligence in the manufacturing sector.
Hot liquids, exposure to open flames and explosions will cause a burning similar to chemical burns. It is important to immediately treat thermal burns because second to third-degree burns are possible from prolonged contact with the burning substance.
Several other types of workplace burn injuries occur in certain conditions and environments:
- Cold burns are possible when workers are forced to work extended periods in extreme cold conditions such as freezers, or are exposed to liquid nitrogen.
- Friction burns are commonly associated with road rash, or forceful contact with hard surfaces that rub the skin until it burns.
- Radiation or sun burns will happen if workers are exposed to concentrated ultraviolet rays, or forced to work outside under excessive exposure to sunlight for prolonged periods.
What to do After Experiencing a Workplace Burn Injury
Workers who endure workplace-related burns in any form should seek immediate treatment. After being treated, the injured worker must report the incident to a supervisor or the human resources department.
After reporting the incident, the injured employee would do well to have names and contact information of witnesses, photos of the scene, and photos of the injuries.
Injured workers who are receiving treatment are encouraged to keep track of hospital, medical, therapy and medication billings. Any bills that are not being paid, any income not being earned, and all other documentable losses should be recorded in some fashion in order to be able to recover for these losses.
Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Employees who suffer workplace burn injuries are entitled to receive benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act. As these benefits are not automatically provided, workers must file a timely an Application to Adjust Claim to initiate a review of the burn accident to determine if benefits are payable. Available benefits include ⅔ of wages while disabled, medical expenses paid, and a lump sum for the permanency resulting from an injury. In Illinois, unless an injury was self-inflicted, occurring during the commission of a crime, while off the clock, or while in violation of company policy, most persons injured at work should receive benefits.
Employers are required to carry insurance for employer injuries. Employer workers compensation insurance is mandatory. Furthermore, all employers are required to post eligibility information in an area viewable by all workers, like break rooms or outside main office areas. Employers are also responsible for reporting injuries that force an employee to miss three or more consecutive days of work to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC).
Injured employees are given 45 days to initiate notice with an employer that an incident occurred at work. Should the employer’s insurer decide benefits are not payable, workers who suffered burn injuries may wish to file their claim with the IWCC.
If an employer or their insurer denies workers compensation benefits, consulting with an experienced law firm to handle claims moving forward is encouraged. Given the proof required to substantiate a worker’s claim of on-the-job injury, employees may find getting a final approval more difficult than it is worth. With an attorney’s help, burn victims can concentrate on their recovery while the Workers’ Compensation attorneys handle the filings, appearances at the Worker’s Compensation Commission, collection of medical bills and records and all related proceedings. If a claim is not settled by negotiation, it will proceed to an evidentiary arbitration hearing. An experienced and skilled workers compensation claim is a necessary partner in securing your rights to fair compensation.
Chicago Burn Injury Attorney
If you have sustained workplace burn injury, we would encourage you to contact the burn injury attorneys at the Blumenshine Law Group by phone at (312) 766-1000 or email us for a free no obligation consultation.