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Understanding burn injuries

The American Burn Association estimates that about 486,000 Americans receive treatment for burns each year. About 40,000 people are hospitalized for burn injuries. Most people think about touching something hot or interacting with fire when it comes to burns, but there are actually many other ways a person can be burned. Here are the four most common types of burns experienced in the workplace.

  • Chemical burns are caused by touching a strong acid or alkali substance. This includes sulfuric acid or lye.
  • Heat burns or thermal burns are caused by contact with hot materials, such as liquid, flames, coals or explosions.
  • Electrical burns are caused by direct contact with an electrical current. An electrical burn should be evaluated by a doctor because the damage isn't always visibly evident.
  • Flash arc burns are also caused by electrical currents, but the person may not actually touch the current. Instead, the current travels through the air and creates an energy pulse that is extremely hot. The arc flash can melt clothing on a person, causing more damage to the skin.

Degrees of burns

Most people know that there are degrees of burns, but it's easy to forget the distinction between the degrees. First degree burns are indicated by red skin without any blisters. Second degree burns include blisters, and the skin might be thickened. Third degree burns are categorized by an overall thickening of the affected skin, which will be a white color. Fourth degree burns are ones that go through the skin to the tendons and bones. Hospitalization is generally required for third and fourth degree burns, and even some second degree burns will require medical care. It's important to check with your healthcare provider when you've experienced a burn.

The consequences of severe burns are long-lasting. It's not only physical scarring and pain. Many workers who get badly burned experience mental health problems and may not be able to return to their pre-injury job. Even if a worker has worker's compensation insurance, they might not make their full wages. Rehab takes time and energy from the entire family. The social, economic and health costs are very high.

Experienced personal injury attorneys understand the needs of a burn victim. They can answer your questions and assist you in getting the benefits you're entitled to. Employers are not allowed to retaliate against you for filing a workers' compensation claim. Let a lawyer protect your rights and get the best possible medical treatment for you if you've been injured on the job.

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