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Restaurant workers at risk for scald burns

Written by Ankin Law Office

Restaurant work can be an exciting and fast-paced career. Unfortunately, it can also bring an elevated risk of injuries on the job. A workers’ compensation Illinois lawyer can describe many cases of restaurant employees who suffer scald burns in the kitchen. These burns are often serious enough to cause long-term disability and absence from work.

Why are scald burns so common in commercial kitchens?

Commercial kitchens are full of hot liquids that can cause severe burns at a moment’s notice. While information is not available for the state of Illinois, statistics compiled by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries show that 49 percent of restaurant workers hospitalized for burns were injured by contact with hot cooking oils. Oil burns are especially serious and painful because oil heats to temperatures above 212 degrees Fahrenheit and clings to the skin after contact. Hot water, boiling stock, coffee and other hot liquids are other common causes of burn injuries in kitchens. Steam from pressure cookers can also result in severe injuries if a device malfunctions or is handled incorrectly.

Classifying scald burns

Like all burns, scald burns have different degrees of severity, from trivial to life threatening. Burns caused by hot liquids or steam are divided into the following three general categories:

  • First degree burns, causing swelling and redness in the outer layers of the skin
  • Second degree burns, extending deeper into the skin and causing blisters
  • Third degree burns, destroying the skin and damaging tissues or organs beneath it

Many commercial kitchen accidents result in third degree scald burns because of the high volumes and temperatures involved. Every workers’ compensation Illinois lawyer knows that these burns can be disfiguring.

Recovering from scald burns

The process of recovering from major scald burns is often long and painful. Treatment can be expensive and time-consuming. Even after the burns are healed, serious scars may remain. Many burn victims suffer from anxiety or depression in the aftermath of the accident. Some survivors are unable to return to the commercial kitchen and must be retrained for a different job.

Avoiding burns in the workplace

Proper communication and housekeeping are important for avoiding burn risks in the workplace. More than 30 percent of serious kitchen burns reported to the Department of Labor and Industries are associated with trip, slip or fall accidents, often caused by improper kitchen cleaning and maintenance. Kitchen employees must be trained to handle hot liquids correctly and avoid unnecessary dangers. Deep fryer operation requires special training, especially when the job is performed by inexperienced teen workers.

A serious scald burn can be life changing. Restaurant employees who have suffered burns in the workplace may find it helpful to discuss their options with a workers’ compensation Illinois lawyer.