Burn accidents involving these hazards are, unfortunately, fairly common in the American workplace.
Most occupations aren’t at risk from more than one or two of these threats, so at least worker training can focus a limited range of safety concerns. The exception is the food service injury. People who work in restaurants, bakeries, catering kitchens, fast food outlets, and other places where people eat and drink are usually exposed to the full spectrum of food service burn injury risks.
Because safety precautions aren’t perfect, high risks mean elevated accident rates. Pennsylvania food and beverage workers are subject to extremely high rates of burn injuries, including severely disfiguring and fatal burns. Nationwide, there are over 12,000 on-the-job burn injuries to food service employees every year.
Three Phases of Recovery From Food Service Burn Accidents
Medical care for burn injuries has made significant advances since the days when two out of every three victims of serious burn accidents could be expected to die. Today, quick emergency treatment means that most restaurant burn injury victims will live. But recovery from a workplace burn injury is not easy or quick, and recovery takes three distinct phases:
The Physical Recovery
The more severe the burn damage, the longer an injury victim can expect to remain hospitalized. There’s a tradeoff here: hospital care means the best access to medical expertise, pain management, and reconstructive surgery services, but it also exposes the patient to higher risks of infection by antibiotic-resistant organisms. Still, most burn patients find the hospital a comforting environment and may have difficulty readjusting back home.
Leaving the hospital after a serious burn injury does not mean the end of medical care. Many food service workers with burn injuries will have to engage in extended periods of physical therapy and rehabilitation to adjust to permanent disabilities. Additionally, more options for surgical improvement of scars and disfigurements become available as time passes and the burn damage stabilizes.
The Social Recovery
People with extensive scars or amputations from a burn injury elicit changed reactions from strangers and loved ones alike. Most people find that their appearance is an essential part of their self-esteem and self-image. When a burn injury radically alters one’s face, limbs, or body, the person’s expectations about interacting with others changes too. Many burn victims find it very difficult at first to go out in public or to meet with other people.
Recovering social poise after a disfiguring burn injury may take a long time. Almost every burn patient experiences some permanent changes in how he relates to other people
The Psychological Recovery
The psychological reaction to an acute burn injury can be the most difficult adjustment to make, and coping with the physical and social challenges only make a mental recovery harder. It’s common for burn victims to experience depression, anxiety, irritability, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As with other aspects of the post-hospital recovery, the psychological adjustment can take months or years to complete. Many persons with acute burn injuries report that counseling or other forms of therapy have helped them.
The Fourth Aspect: Financial Recovery
A workplace burn injury for employees in food service occupations in Pennsylvania is covered under the laws for workers’ compensation. If you have been injured in the course of your job, it doesn’t matter who was at fault. Seek immediate medical care and notify your boss as soon as possible about the injury. Workers’ compensation is mandatory for Pennsylvania employers. It will pay for your injury-related medical costs, a portion of your lost wages, and any permanent disability until you reach your maximum recovery from your burn accident.
Because burn injuries can be expensive to treat, some employers fight back against legitimate workers’ compensation claims. If you are facing delayed, denied, or terminated benefits in central Pennsylvania, turn to Schmidt Kramer, our workers’ compensation law firm in Harrisburg.
Call a Harrisburg injury attorney at (717) 888-8888 toll-free to schedule a free, confidential case review or to get your questions answered. You can also request a FREE copy of our helpful report for Pennsylvania residents, Who Pays the Bills When You Are Injured at Work?, which we will send you without any obligation.