Workers in certain jobs and industries are regularly exposed to hazards in the workplace which may result in occupational burn injuries. A study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that between the years of 1999 and 2008, emergency departments throughout the U.S. treated 1,132,000 people for work-related burns. Due to workplace burn injuries, employees may require significant medical treatment and time off work to recover, and they may be entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
What Jobs Have the Greatest Risk for Burn Injuries?
Any workers exposed to fire or other heat-related hazards in the workplace are at risk of suffering a burn injury, but the danger is increased for employees in the food preparation, electrical, industrial, and automobile servicing fields. Cooks, particularly those who use fryers, may be scalded by steam, fire, or hot liquids. Employees at electric companies or stores, on construction sites, or who otherwise are in contact with electricity may suffer shocks or electrocutions, which result in electrical burns. Exposure to strong alkaloids, acids or other such corrosive materials on the job may eat away at workers’ exposed skin and deeper tissue, resulting in chemical burns.
Burn injuries are most common among male workers in high-risk jobs, and those who are between the ages of 15- and 24-years-old.
Common Types of Work-Related Burns
Depending on the type of accident or exposure they experience in the workplace, people may suffer various types of burns on the job including thermal burns, chemical burns, and electrical burns. Such injuries may range from mostly superficial and minimally damaging to severe and causing permanent damage to workers’ skin, body tissue, muscles, tendons, or bones.
What Factors Contribute to Occupational Burn Injuries?
In addition to working in a high-risk job, several other factors commonly contribute to the occurrence of burn injuries in the workplace. Inexperience on the part of employees working as fry cooks, as well as of those who otherwise come into contact with open flames, electrical currents, flammable chemicals and gases, and other heat sources in the workplace plays a role in many occupational burns. Burn injuries may also happen in the workplace when employers do not enforce the appropriate safety rules and precautions, or if workers do not receive adequate training regarding the hazards.