Burns on the job are rare in some workplaces, but not in the energy sector. Those who work in the fossil fuel industry, especially those who work on oil rigs or in refining plants, are at increased risk for injury due to fire or explosion, especially when compared with workers across all industries.
Interacting with and handling highly flammable materials carries an increased risk of getting burned. Few people think about the potential reality of life after severe burns until they or someone they know experiences these kinds of injuries. The better you understand the impact burns can have on someone’s life, the better equipped you will be to make decisions regarding care and whether to seek compensation.
The higher the degree of burn, the worse the damage becomes
First-degree burns are the least severe burns. In fact, some workers may not even report first-degree burns to their employer, as they only involve irritation or reddening of the skin and minor pain. Sunburns and rug burns are examples of first-degree burns.
Second-degree burns cause more serious damage to the skin, likely including blistering and pain. Second-degree burns can be either topical or deep, and deep second-degree burns may cause permanent scars and significant discomfort during convalescence.
Third-degree burns are among the worst, as they burn completely through the skin and can damage the fat and other tissue underneath, including nerves. They can easily occur in scenarios involving accelerants, such as gas and oil. Third-degree burns can be incredibly painful and often require skin grafts. Many times, nerve damage results from extensive third-degree burns.
Fourth-degree burns are extreme, impacting muscles, tendons and even bones. They can occur in explosions and when someone cannot escape flames, possibly due to being soaked in flammable liquids. Both third- and fourth-degree burns can prove fatal, as can severe second-degree burns over a large portion of the body. These burns can also cause nerve damage, motor function issues, loss of strength and chronic pain, all of which may prohibit someone from remaining gainfully employed.
Burn victims often require extensive, ongoing care
Depending on the prognosis of a burn victim, they may need to miss several weeks or several months of work. Those with severe burns may never return to full employment. Those lost wages are an important consideration, as will be the medical care required by those suffering severe burns due to a fire or explosion in a facility that handles gas or oil.
Typically, employees in these facilities will have protection under workers’ compensation laws, although certain cases may also necessitate claims brought directly against an employer who was negligent in training or in their maintenance of the facility. Those working on offshore rigs may also have to bring special claims to connect with compensation after a workplace injury involving a fire or explosion.