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Pennsylvania Industries with the Most Burn Injuries
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Pennsylvania Industries with the Most Burn Injuries

Pennsylvania Industries with the Most Burn Injuries – In many areas of the US, the mining and manufacturing industries experience the greatest number of burn injuries, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), but in Pennsylvania, the majority of the burn injuries occurred to those with exposure to electricity and firefighters and other first responders, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

While burn injuries rarely happen in the workplace in Pennsylvania, if you’re one of the two percent of individuals who incurred an on-the-job burn injury, you need an attorney experienced in burn injury claims. If treatment does not heal you as expected or a second opinion uncovers treatment that should have been administered but was not, you may need an attorney experienced in medical malpractice cases.

Typical Types of Burn Injuries

According to a 2014 Department of Labor report, the most recent report year available, 3,500 workplace burn injuries occurred that year in the state. The statistics don’t break down the types of burn injuries. Generally, the three most common types of workplace burn injury include:

  • thermal burns,
  • chemical burns,
  • electrical burns.
  • contact burns,
  • scald burns.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) study revealed that the median hospital stay for burns is 5.54 days. The majority of those patients had insurance. Only three of the 2,150 patients studied did not have health insurance. The national study found that the number one cause of workplace burns in the Atlantic region is industrial plant explosions. Second to that were chemical burns. While this accounts for all cases in the Atlantic region, this does include Pennsylvania in its region. Most patients were male (90 percent) with an average age of 37 years. Surprisingly, the age range of the employees dipped below 18 and above 70, ranging from 15 years of age to 72 years of age. That means some youth with work permits obtained with parental permission worked in dangerous jobs, and it means that some men remain employed in dangerous occupations after the typical retirement age of 70 years.

Workplace Safety Shortfalls

According to the NIH study, each workplace lacked a key element – “the maintenance of fire safety.” After identifying the causes of the work-related burns, researchers found that the workplaces needed to formulate adequate safety measures. The highest at-risk group identified are “young, male employees” who work with chemicals. The burn injuries occurred despite adherence to OSHA safety measures and guidelines.

Despite following guidelines, according to OSHA, more than 5,000 work-related injuries stemmed from fires and explosions each year. Although they don’t happen frequently, out of all US burn deaths, 40 percent were caused by workplace fires. According to a 2007 National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (NCFOI) report, about 10 percent of US workplace deaths were fire or burn-related. This study also revealed that the highest incidence of burns occurred with African American workers (four times as likely) and young workers (two times as likely).

Despite OSHA work injury and near-miss reports plus the BLS reports, no comprehensive national surveillance system exists for documenting occupational injuries and illnesses. This means that some of the incurred injuries may have gone unreported.

Workers Compensation and Burn Injuries

The state of Pennsylvania, like other US states, maintains a workers’ compensation insurance program. When an employee incurs an injury on the job, this program covers their essential medical treatment over and above their health insurance. This ensures that their full medical needs get met. The workers’ comp program also pays a partial salary, typically 40 to 60 percent of their usual take-home pay. Ideally, the employee recovers fully from their accident.

Settlements, Negligence, and Fault

What if the employee does not recover? Perhaps the burn injuries were too severe. At this point, the individual may need lifetime medical care. Workers’ compensation does not cover this. The injured person would need to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for their injuries and for medical care. This settlement would be over and above the insurance payment of any accidental death and dismemberment.

One factor in the size of the award for a burn injury would be whether negligence was present, or the business owner was at fault. If your employer did not follow OSHA regulations or failed to provide proper PPE, you could likely obtain a larger settlement.

The same is true for medical malpractice. If you find out that the doctor who treated the injured or the hospital acted with negligence or was at fault for providing inappropriate treatment, that provides a second potential lawsuit to file. The burden for negligence requires that the doctor or other medical personnel administered treatment “in a way contrary to” the behavior of a competent doctor. Their behavior had to have caused injury or curtailed your injuries from healing. You must have suffered medical/physical damage resulting from it. In addition to the negligence and fault, the severity of the patient’s injury also contributes to the award the court makes in the settlement.

Proving liability will be important to the amount of the settlement. In some instances, the medical professional will admit to fault or negligence but dispute the type, amount, and severity of your injuries in an attempt to lower any settlement amount. In both cases, the burden of proof belongs to the injured to provide the evidence to the lawyers for use in court. This irrefutable evidence must show the negligence and fault of the other party. If the injured party refused to wear PPE, for instance, then the fault for the injury belongs to them. The courts examine whether the employer followed OSHA regulations, trained the employees on how to avoid injury, provided appropriate PPE for protection from the cause of the burns.

Contact an attorney experienced in burn injury claims for the best results. The more experienced your attorney is in the area of burn injuries and workplace injuries, the better outcome you will typically have.

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