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Tillman & Associates, Attorneys at Law

Do construction crews get enough training on burn prevention?

Burn injuries can be some of the most devastating construction injuries of all, requiring extensive hospitalization, painful treatments and long healing times.

If burns are extensive, the burn victim stands a high risk of dying from the severe shock to his or her system. Sepsis, or blood infections, can settle in, quickly killing a victim who is already in a weakened state. Even for those who survive, extensive scarring can leave them disfigured and nerve damage can be permanent, leading to life-long disability.

Should your employer be doing more to protect you and your coworkers from harm?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration points out that workplace burns are often preventable tragedies, as long as safety protocols are followed. OSHA stresses that employers have a duty to provide a safe workplace—and that includes trying to prevent burn injuries through a multi-modal approach.

Initial training measures for new employees need to be comprehensive and address the type of burns that are commonly seen on the work sites. OSHA provides a 10-hour course on safety standards that can be used as a starting point, but it shouldn't be the end point of new-employee training.

New employees need to be specifically trained on how to use and store whatever chemicals, solvents, and other potentially flammable materials are used on the job before they are allowed to handle them on their own. Periodic refresher training is also important.

Electrical education is particularly important for construction crews and one that often isn't fully developed. Employees and supervisors alike don't understand how easily a current can arc and jump from a live wire to an available conduit, including a human being. The individual caught in the electrical flow can sustain serious injuries very easily, including thermal burns, which are burns caused by heat as opposed to fire.

Despite the fact that five workers a week are electrocuted and 12 percent of young worker workplace deaths are attributed to electrical injuries and burns, many construction crews aren't given specialized training on how to prevent them.

If you've been the victim of a burn injury while working on a construction crew, you may need extensive time off, retraining, and workers' compensation benefits to help you pay your bills while you recover.

Source: OSHA Training Institute Education Center, "Preventing Workplace Burns," accessed Dec. 26, 2016

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