What can cause burns at work?

Burn injuries are among the most painful ways a person can get hurt on the job. There are many ways a worker can suffer a burn, which can cause terrible scarring and deformation in those who survive.

The University of New Mexico Hospitals provide a good description of the various ways the human body can be burned. The hospital’s website divides burns into four categories: thermal, chemical, electrical and radiological.

Thermal burns. These are burns caused by heat or fire. Thermal burns have four sub-categories. Flash burns are caused by explosions of flammable liquids like propane or natural gas. Flames can cause more prolonged, intense heat. Hot liquids can cause scalding burns. And contact with hot solids like metal, plastic or coal can cause deep burns.

Chemical burns. Strong acids and alkali substances can burn skin. They can be difficult to stop because the agent will continue to cause harm until it is totally inactivated.

Electrical burns. Technically another form of thermal burn. Electric current often causes injury in parts of the body other than the site of contract or entry.

Radiological burns. Exposure to alpha, beta or gamma radiation can also burn workers, who may need to be decontaminated.

As readers probably have already noted, many of the substances that cause burns are common at some workplaces. Despite reasonable precautions, not every accident can be prevented, and burns sometimes occur. While the victim is recovering, he or she may need to miss work for an extended period. Fortunately, people burned at work may qualify for workers’ compensation.