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Have you been burned by a chemical found in your workplace? Morgan & Morgan would like to speak to you about your injury and let you know whether you are able to file a lawsuit.
Workplace chemical burns are extremely painful, and can cause lasting injuries as severe as burn injuries caused by fire. If it’s an accident that wasn’t even your fault, that can make the life-changing injuries feel even worse.
Chemical burns are often associated with strong chemicals that can burn away flesh when they come in contact with a person’s skin. Not all workplace chemicals are powerful enough to dissolve skin, however, and workers may also develop rashes of varying severity, depending on the chemical they came in contact with.
If a worker inhaled a toxic fume, they could sustain inhalation burns to their lungs, throat, and sinus cavities. If they consumed a harmful chemical, they could develop burns in their stomach and intestines. Ultimately, the severity of each chemical burn injury will depend on the chemical’s strength and the contact area.
If your skin or eyes come into contact with strong acid, alkaloid, or other chemicals that could burn skin, deeper tissue, and internal organs, flush the contact area thoroughly and seek medical attention immediately. If you don’t suffer burn symptoms immediately, continue to monitor the contact area for several hours because it may take time for symptoms to appear.
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How Do Chemical Burns Occur At Work?
When workers are well protected with safety gear and are trained in proper safety protocols chemical burns are easily avoided. If workers are forced to use low-quality safety equipment, aren’t properly trained to handle chemicals, or are lax about wearing safety equipment when they should, chemical burns occur.
Depending on a workers occupation and the chemicals they come in contact with, they may only suffer minor chemical burns, such as a janitor that was splashed with some bleach. Conversely, a worker tasked with pulling samples of a highly concentrated chemical for testing at a fabricating plant may suffer more severe burns, if they come in contact with the chemical.
Occupations that commonly handle potentially dangerous chemicals, include:
- Construction workers
- Chemical plant employees
- Farm workers
- Laboratory staff
- Mine workers
- Nail technicians
- Pool cleaners
- Transport industry workers
What Chemicals Are Commonly Used In The Workplace?
Many occupations involve the use of chemicals that are potentially dangerous — such as benzene — when they’re improperly used. While those who handle such chemicals should be trained in their use and given proper protective gear, that’s not always the case and workers are injured as a result.
Some of the most common chemicals found at work are made with sulfuric acid, which is used in drain cleaners, fertilizer, and car battery fluid. Another common chemical is hydrochloric acid, which is used in metal, stone, and pool cleaners.
Potassium and sodium hydroxide are also commonly used in the workplace in denture and oven cleaners. So are sodium and calcium hypochlorite, which are the main components of bleaches and ammonia.
Ultimately, workers’ are burned by either an acid or a base. Bases are often more dangerous than acids, which can be rinsed relatively quickly, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Bases on the other hand, may take up to 20 minutes to fully rinse off.
How Often Do Chemical Burns Occur At Work?
Workplace chemical burns affected less than one in every 10,000 workers in 2016, and required a median of three days away from work, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A study conducted at a Georgia hospital, however, found that out of 2,510 adult patients admitted with acute burns, 384 cases were work related, and 16 percent of those were caused by chemical burns. The study concluded that, “burn injuries at the workplace predominantly occur among young male workers, and the study has shown that chemical burns are relatively frequent.”
Symptoms of a Chemical Burn
The severity of a chemical burn is directly relevant to the concentration strength of the chemical, and the amount and duration of bodily contact with the chemical. Consequently, it’s important to identify and treat a burn as quickly as possible.
According to a WebMd article reviewed by Dr. Louise Chang, the most common symptoms of chemical burns are:
- Inflammation and burning at point of contact;
- Pain or numbness at point of contact;
- Blisters or black or dead skin;
- Vision complications, if exposed to an eye;
- Difficulty or painful breathing in the event of inhalation; and
- In rare occurrences, cardiac arrest and/or death.
Treating Chemical Accidents
Chemical burns are a medical emergency. If first aid isn’t readily available to quickly flush the chemical from your eyes, mouth, neck, abdomen, hand, or foot than extensive tissue damage, blindness, disfigurement, and even death can occur.
Clothing that came in contact with the chemical must be removed, and the contact area must be flushed with water immediately. It is recommended to flush the area with clean water for at least 10 minutes, according to Mayo Clinic.
Medical staff may need to administer an intravenous solution to stabilize blood pressure and heart rate and apply pain medication. The area of the wound will also need to be cleaned and bandaged, Mayo Clinic says.
Some chemical burns can be very severe. After treatment, there may be significant scarring and disfigurement. Burns in the eye could result in permanent blindness. If swallowed, internal chemical burns can lead to serious gastrointestinal issues, according to Dr. Chang.
In some instances, extensive follow up care and therapy may be needed. The pain from a chemical burn can be excruciating and enduring, and pain management could be a major part of treatment.
You May Be Eligible For Compensation
Workers who suffer severe chemical burns that were no fault of their own could be entitled to compensation for lost wages, accrued and ongoing medical bills, and even funeral costs, if the burn injury leads to wrongful death. Contact our chemical burn lawyers today for a no-cost, no-risk case evaluation.