Burn Injuries Are a Real Risk on Construction Sites

Burn Injuries Are a Real Risk on Construction SitesConstruction sites are dangerous places. Not only are there power tools and heavy machinery everywhere, but larger sites may have multiple crews working on them at once. At any given point, depending on the size of the project, you might have a welder fixing ductwork, an electrician working on the power lines, and an excavator crew digging up soil near gas lines. In short, there’s a lot going on that could cause a serious injury – and burn injuries in particular are among the most serious there are.

Construction workers often suffer one of three different types of burns in the workplace:

  • Electrical burns. Workers who are constantly exposed to electric currents and exposed sockets or wires can experience these types of burns.
  • Chemical burns. Workers who are exposed to corrosive materials like acids, thinning agents and oxidizers can suffer from these types of burns. The American Burn Association (ABA) reports that following electrocutions, chemical burns and exposure to corrosive materials is the next leading cause of workplace deaths.
  • Thermal burns. These types of burns happen when construction workers come in contact with hot liquids, flames, and steam. Explosions and fires are the main construction site accidents that cause burn injuries. Data from the S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that 71 construction workers died in 2020 from explosion and fire accidents.

Workers may also suffer radiation burns (a fancy way of saying “sunburn”) but most people recover with some aloe. Note, though, that a truly severe sunburn can leave you dehydrated and blistering, and should be treated by a medical professional.

Additional injuries caused by worksite burns

While the primary injury is the burn, the secondary injuries can be just as serious. Second-, third-, and fourth-degree burns can all cause permanent scarring, which can be physically painful and emotionally traumatizing. It can lead to contracture, which can limit mobility if the affected area is over your joints. It can also cause respiratory difficulties if the burns cover the chest around the ribs.

Workers may also be at increased risk of internal injuries and organ damage. Smoke and ash inhalation can not only affect the lungs, but it can also cause burns along the mouth and throat. The inhalation of toxic chemicals (after an explosion or because of another incident) can also cause internal damage or distress.

But it is workers who suffer electrical burns who may face the greatest risks. In fact, in some cases, the primary injury (the burn) is not nearly as dangerous as the secondary injuries that coming into contact with electricity can cause. Per UpToDate, electrical burn injuries can lead to:

  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Kidney damage and potential kidney failure
  • Rhabdomyolysis (where “substances from inside damaged muscle cells can leak into the blood” and cause injury to other organs
  • Acute Compartment Syndrome (pressure buildup within the muscles which can lead to tissue necrosis)
  • Nervous system damage
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of vision or hearing

Finally, there is an additional risk of physical trauma for anyone who is burned at work. In some cases, the damage done by a third- or fourth-degree burn can necessitate amputation of the affected body part.

What are my legal options after a construction site accident injury?

Construction sites are one of the most dangerous workplaces in the United States. Still, accidents are often preventable. Depending on the nature of the incident and your burn injuries, you have a few options to seek compensation.

What does Nevada’s workers’ compensation benefits cover?

An injured employee has the right to seek compensation through workers’ compensation benefits. Workers’ compensation is a no-fault insurance program that provides compensation for injured employees. In exchange for waiving their right to hold employers liable for their injuries, employees are awarded compensation for their medical expenses and lost wages.

Should I file a personal injury lawsuit if I’m hurt on the job?

Another legal option you have is to file a personal injury lawsuit. Workers can’t sue their employers—other than in very few instances—but, if there is another party at fault for the injuries a personal injury lawsuit is an option. Even if you are an employee, you can still file a personal injury claim if:

  • Workers’ compensation isn’t enough, and a third party is liable. Some injuries are so catastrophic that workers’ compensation will not be enough to help a victim survive. If a third party is liable, you can file a lawsuit against them, even if you have recovered workers’ compensation benefits from your employer. You can file a personal injury claim to seek a larger damage award, but you should know that if you accepted money through workers’ compensation, you will need to pay that back from your injury award.
  • You want to claim pain and suffering. Work comp only pays medical expenses and lost wages; it will not compensate you for your pain and suffering or compensate your spouse for his or her loss of companionship. Only a personal injury award can do this. Again, this requires a third party who is liable for your injuries other than your employer.
  • A defective product caused you harm. If your burn injuries are the result of a product defect, you can hold the manufacturer liable through a product liability claim. An example of this might be, if your safety helmet was defective and the sparks from a welding machine burn through the visor, burning your face and eyes, then you can file a lawsuit against the maker of that safety helmet.

If you or a loved one suffered a burn injury in a construction site accident anywhere in Nevada, Claggett & Sykes wants to help. Call our office in Las Vegas at 702.333.7777, our office in Reno at 775-322-2923, or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation with an injury attorney from our team.