Burns are one of the most common, yet potentially dangerous workplace injuries. OSHA reports that fires and explosions were responsible for 148 workplace fatalities and thousands of injuries in 2013. Depending on the severity of the injury sustained, the costs associated with an on-the-job burn injury can be immense. The true cost of a burn injury for both the employer and employee extends far beyond the obvious medical and legal costs. Below, we breakdown the costs of employee burn injuries that you may have overlooked.
Burn injuries can range from mild first degree burns (equivalent to a mild sunburn) to life threatening third and fourth degree burns. The physical ramifications of a burn injury cannot be understated. Serious burns can require extended hospital stays, multiple surgeries, and long-term treatment and rehabilitation. The National Center for Biotechnology Information estimates that the treatment costs of a major burn injury can be as high as $200,000 with each 1% of the body burn corresponding to two days of hospital time.
Even mild 1st and 2nd degree burns can result in the loss of employee productivity and severe burns can render the employee permanently disabled. Depending on the particular role of the affected employee, there may be high costs associated with temporarily/permanently replacing that employee.
The psychological distress experienced by burn survivors, company employees, and the friends/family of the burn survivor is often underestimated. According to research conducted by Burn Injury Model Systems, almost one third of burn victims with major injuries experience severe distress (depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc.) for as many as two years after the event.
Legal and Insurance Costs
Although workers compensation provides protection to both the employee and employer in most situations, there are still circumstances in which an employee can file a civil lawsuit against their employer. Additionally, your workers compensation insurance premiums can increase depending on the severity and frequency of employee claims.
Luckily, occupational burn injuries are preventable. Proper safety standards can significantly reduce the number of workplace burn injuries and flame resistant clothing can help mitigate the scope of a burn injury and, thus, reduce the overall burn injury costs should an accident occur.