Chemical Burn at Work...

by Tony
(Winfield, KS, USA)

I came home today (1/17/12) to find my girlfriend with second degree burns all down her right leg and a little on her arm. I work around chemicals and I was surprised at how bad it was when she told me it was from sanitizer solution. Then I was enraged to find out that she had spilled the concentrate on her leg at 8am in the morning.

After telling the manager they told her it was harmless and that she didn't need to go home to change. A few hours later when it began to hurt and turn red she again showed her manager who told her to just put some lotion on it.

She worked her whole shift before coming home to wash it off and now she can hardly bend her knee as it's very painful, swollen and red. I asked my girlfriend if she had read the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on the solution and she said that she and her boss had taken shortcuts in the training and have no idea what they say.

Also, the reason it spilled on her was because it was stored unsafely in a leaking container on top of a bucket (to catch it dripping) and she was trying to empty that bucket when it spilled on her. This sounds absolutely unsafe to me and negligent on behalf of the management and staff. She works at the Deli in a national chain retail store.

What should she do? Thanks you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Chemical Burn at Work...":

Tony (Winfield, KS, USA):

It is difficult to comprehend how your girlfriend sustained second degree burns and didn't seek immediate medical care. It's also just as difficult to comprehend how your girlfriend's employer ignored second degree burns, especially as they would not only have been terribly painful, but would have been readily apparent to anyone who saw her leg and her arm.

It is incredulous to believe anyone could ignore 2nd degree burns. Burns of that degree normally require prompt medical care.

If the burns are that serious, and if you haven't yet already taken your girlfriend for medical care, do it now. Once she has received the medical attention she requires, have her contact the workers' compensation associate at her place of employment.

She needs to file a workers' comp claim. Doing so will enable her to receive the proper and continuing medical care she will need.

That care should include plastic surgery if needed. If she is required to miss work she should also be entitled to a majority of her lost wages during her treatment and recovery. In addition her out of pocket expenses, such as prescription and over the counter medications, should be paid for or reimbursed.

She will most likely not be entitled to any additional amounts for pain and suffering. Workers' compensation laws do not usually allow those types of payments.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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