In general, Americans and the citizens of other wealthy nations suffer fewer burns than those who live in the world’s poorer nations. But that’s not to say we don’t suffer. Every year sees nearly half a million Americans seek burn treatment.
Notably, studies have found that anywhere from 15 to 40% of all burn victims suffer their burns at work. This is notable because workplace burns are significantly different than other burns. They have different causes, and victims may need to follow different paths toward recovery.
What causes workplace burns?
Outside of the workplace, most burns result from contact with open flames. Inside the workplace, that changes. Researchers cited the following distribution of workplace burns:
- Hot water and grease scalds – 37%
- Thermal burns (including contact with flame) – 26%
- Chemical burns – 16%
- Electric burns – 11%
Contact, friction and other burns were also factors, albeit far less common.
Where do people get burned?
Changes to the economy may have impacted the jobs most affected by burns since the American Journal of Industrial Medicine published its survey. However, it found people were most likely to suffer burns in the following industries:
- Restaurants and food services
- Health care
The most frequent burns changed from industry to industry. While people in restaurants and food services were most likely to suffer scalds, manufacturers were nearly as likely to suffer from radiation burns as from thermal burns. Construction workers suffered nearly half of all the nation’s electrical burns.
Preventing and recovering from burns
Most burn victims were younger. Workers ages 34 and below accounted for 45% of all burns. This led researchers to conclude they could blame most work burns on inexperience, poor training and the failure to follow standard safety protocols.
This means the first thing you can do to protect yourself from workplace burns is simply pay attention during training and follow the safety protocols.
However, this isn’t always enough. People make mistakes, and employers may take shortcuts that put their employees at risk. Workers’ compensation can cover most mistakes, but if you suffer a burn because of your employer’s negligence, you may need to file a third-party injury claim. Serious burns come with serious consequences, and workers’ compensation might not offer full compensation for your suffering.
No one should have to suffer
Burns can be prevented. This is just as true in the workplace as it is at home. You can do your part by paying attention and following all the rules for safety. But your employer must also do their part. If they don’t, you may have a claim to more than workers’ comp.