Chemical Burns at Work Compensation Claims

If you’ve endured a chemical burn injury at work you may be eligible to claim compensation. A chemical burn can be painful, cause lifelong damage to your skin, eyes, and/or respiratory system, and have an impact on your way of life and your ability to work.
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Common Causes of Chemical Burns at Work

A chemical burn occurs generally to the skin and eyes when they come into contact with strong acids, alkaloids or other corrosive or caustic materials that eat away or burn skin and deeper tissue. A chemical burn may cause a reaction on your skin or within your body. If you swallow chemicals you may also sustain a chemical burn to your internal organs. Common causes of chemical burn injuries in the workplace include:

- Car battery acid;
- Cleaning chemicals such as bleach or ammonia;
- Drain chemicals;
- Metal cleaning chemicals;
- Paint thinners;
- Hydrochloric acid;
- Dental chemicals; and/or
- Pool cleaning chemicals.

There are some professions that are more at risk of sustaining a chemical burn injury than others. The following are some higher risk workers: cleaners, car mechanics and battery fitters, dentists and dental assistants, pool maintenance workers, chemical plant workers, plumbers, hairdressers, nail technicians and painters. Other types of burns that can be sustained at work, including: thermal burns, electrical burns, or gas explosions.

Thermal Burns
A thermal burn is a type of burn resulting from making contact with a heated source, such as boiling water or steam (commonly known as scalding burns), hot cooking oil, open flames, explosions, and hot objects.
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Burn or Electrical
Electrical burns occur when an electrical current travels through the body and meets resistance in tissue, resulting in heat burn injuries. Workplace Health and Safety standards require all electrical sources, high-voltage areas and machinery to be clearly marked and regularly maintained. These simple measures can assist in this type of burn injuries from occurring less.
Gas Explosions
Gas explosions can happen where gas is stored in a single place. Caution should be used when dealing with flammable chemicals such as gases, to prevent explosions and burn injuries to workers.

Gas explosions can cause fire injuries and blast injuries. Flying debris from explosions can cause serious injury. Smoke or chemical inhalation can also cause damage to the lungs.

A gas explosion may also cause psychological injuries to those directly involved or anyone that witnesses the explosion. It is possible to also claim compensation for psychological injuries through a workers compensation claim.
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What Evidence is Required to Make a Burn Injury Compensation Claim?
As with any workplace injury, the first step to take if you have suffered a burn injury is to seek medical attention immediately. If your injuries are sustained in the course of your work, you should be entitled to make a workers compensation claim. When you are attending your medical appointment you will require a worker’s compensation certificate to be issued, be sure to mention to your doctor how you sustained your injuries and any work conditions that contributed to your accident.

When making injury compensation claims, medical evidence is highly regarded and essential to assisting with the burn injury compensation process.
Am I Eligible to Make a Burn Injury Compensation Claim?
You should always be provided a safe work environment, including adequate and frequent training, appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and support to report incidents as needed.

If you have suffered a burn injury at work, you could be entitled to make a burn injury compensation via the worker’s compensation scheme with WorkCover Queensland or a self-insurer (if your employer is self-insured). If you believe your employer has been negligent in their duty of care you may also be able to pursue a common law claim.
Classifications of Burn Injuries at Work
The severity of a burn injury is classified by the degree to which your skin is burnt. The classifications will assist with your medical treatment and your recovery.
First Degree Burns
First degree burns cause minimal skin damage and are considered superficial since they affect the top layer of the skin. A mild sunburn is an example of this type of burn, where the burn site is red, painful, dry and without blister. First degree burns are usually mild and burns that cover less than 10% of the body are considered minor.
Second Degree Burns
The damage from a second degree burn extends beyond the top layer of the skin and can often cause the skin to blister or become extremely red and sore. For example, burning your fingers on a stove top or a really hot pan. The pain experienced can range from mild to severe depending on the skin surface burned.
Third Degree Burns
Third degree burns destroy both the epidermis and the dermis, and they can also go as deep as to destroy tissue underneath. These burns can appear red, black, or white. Third degree burns are the most severe of all burns. Full thickness and deep dermal burns can cause dead tissue and, in some cases, can compromise blood supply to limbs.
Fourth Degree Burns
Fourth degree burns affect all skin layers, and there is also potential for damage to muscle, tendons and bone. Skin grafts do not work on these severe burns, so much so that fourth degree burns may require amputation if injury occurs in a limb.

Generally, burns that cover more than 10% of the total body surface area are considered a major burn injury. If you suffer a burn injury, it is extremely important to make sure that you are receiving the appropriate care. Prompt medical treatment usually reduces your risk for developing complications in addition to providing immediate relief from pain and discomfort.
Is There a Time Limit for Claiming Burn Injury Compensation?
Strict time limits apply when making burn injury compensation claims. You have six months from the date of your accident or in some cases, when a workers compensation medical certificate is issued, to lodge a worker’s compensation claim.

Once lodged, WorkCover has 20 business days to inform you as to whether they have accepted or rejected your burn injuries claim.

It is important to seek legal advice before you lodge a workers compensation claim. Our expert personal injury lawyers can advise you of your legal rights and ensure you include all reasonable compensation requests for your individual situation.
How Long do Burn Injury Claims Usually Take?
All burn injury claims are different, individual circumstances and the severity of your burn injuries will all factor into how long a claim may take to settle. The time in which your burns heal and the lifelong affects they may have on you, take time to eventuate along with the full impact they may have on your life going forward. When you meet with one of our experienced lawyers, they will provide you with a rough time estimate your claim may take once they have accessed your claim. Your personal injury claim may last anywhere from a few months to several years.
How Much Does it Cost to Lodge a Burn Injury Compensation Claim?
We offer a ‘No Win. No Fee. No Catch’® promise, which means there are no upfront costs and you will never be left out of pocket. Fees are calculated on the amount of work done and will be explained to you in full before the matter is opened and before you sign any kind of agreement.
What are the Average Burn Injury Compensation Payouts?
Sustaining a burn injury could impair your ability to work to your full capacity, could result in unexpected higher medical and rehabilitation costs and cause undue stress on yourself and your family. Successful burn injury compensation claims will take into account the following:

- Pain and suffering you are experiencing as a result of the injury;
- Loss of past and future earnings;
- Reimbursement for any medical expenses; and
- Future treatment needed.

The compensation payout amount will depend on the severity of the burn injury, the impact it is having on your ability to work, how much treatment you will need in the future and any care you may require going forward.
Can I Represent Myself When Making a Burn Injury Claim?
In short, yes you can represent yourself when making a burn injury compensation claim. But you may risk missing important steps or elements in the legal process and you may miss out on vital compensation you require to assist with your life going forward. Successfully representing yourself will likely involve a thorough understanding of the law, your legal rights and entitlements, and above all the time and energy to pursue the claim.

Most people making burn injury claims choose not to act for themselves and instead engage an experienced personal injury lawyer. Our compensation lawyers can provide the knowledge and experience required to help guide your case to the best possible outcome.
Lodge A "No Win No Fee" Claim
If you suffer injuries while at work, you don't have to worry about the whole process of making your claim or the legal fees involved. Here at Smith's Lawyers, we offer free consultation services for injured workers looking to kickstart their claims. As mentioned before, we also have a no-win no fee, no catch policy.
Get in touch with us to give yourself the best opportunity to receive the maximum compensation possible for your claim.
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